Caulking to Stop Air Leaks
We all want our home to be energy efficient, and according to the U.S. Department of Energy, drafts are responsible for the loss of between 5-30 percent of a home’s energy. Keeping tight seals around your doors and windows is a simple and cost-effective way to help reduce power bills.
Latex Paintable Caulk
Standard Caulking Gun
Scissors or Knife
Caulking compounds vary in strength, properties and prices. For a long-lasting seal, choose permanently waterproof, flexible, shrink-crack-proof 100 percent silicone (specifically for doors and windows), and if you are painting, try paintable silicone. For this project, we will caulk around a door frame.
- Before you apply the caulk, wipe down the surface with a damp cloth to remove any residue or dirt; then strip or scrape old caulk out of the gap or crack.
- Take the tube of caulk and cut the tip at a 45 degree angle.
- Pierce the seal on the cartridge to allow the caulk to flow evenly.
- Insert the tube of caulk into the caulking gun.
- Start applying a bead of caulking to the areas you have prepared, squeezing evenly, and with consistent pressure and speed to control the rate at which the caulk leaves the tube.
- Complete a section at a time and smooth out the caulking with the tip of your finger.
Note: The trick to a good caulking job is to hold it at a consistent angle and draw the bead continuously rather than in a stop-and-start fashion. Then release the trigger before pulling the gun away to avoid excess caulk oozing out.
Caulk forms a flexible seal for cracks, gaps or joints less than one quarter-inch wide. Making smart choices like caulking to stop air seepage throughout your home can help you save energy and money.
Taking the Window Pain out of Energy Bills
Windows can add a pleasing appeal to a home—they let in natural light, offer a view to the outdoors and add to a home’s overall appearance, but they can also be the culprits of costly air leaks. During the winter, many homeowners explain how they feel noticeably cold air near their windows. There can be several reasons for this. First, windows offer the smallest amount of protection from the weather conditions outside. If you think about it, your home’s walls are, on average, eight inches to one foot thick, and consist of wood, insulation and sheetrock, offering you several layers of protection from the elements. A window, on the other hand, does not offer much depth, or significant temperature resistant surface between you and Mother Nature.
Additionally, many people may feel cool air concentrated around windows due to drafts caused by gaps. These gaps can be large enough for you to see or so small, you don’t realize they exist. So what can you do to take the “pain” out of windows that allow outside air infiltration? One option is simply caulking around the window frame. Caulking windowsill gaps is a fast and inexpensive way to keep cold air out during the winter.
Another option to block the cold is to install insulated, or black out, curtains. These curtains aid by adding an extra layer of material against cold air, which can reduce heat loss through the window by as much as 25 percent. Throughout the winter, insulated curtains should be open during sunny days to allow the sun’s radiant heat to help warm the house and closed on cloudy days and at night to help keep the heat inside.
Many people often ask if replacing their windows is a good investment since they can be costly to upgrade. On average, it can take three to seven years or longer to receive a payback.
But if you do decide to replace your home’s windows, there are some features you should look for. Double panes (or two sheets of glass) offer a thicker barrier for your home from the outside temperatures than do single panes. Double-paned windows contain a type of gas in between the panes as well as a coating on the glass. The gas between the panes is heavier than air and reduces the movement of air. Low emissive coatings on the glass (Low-e) are used to block the heat from the sun and are another beneficial feature to request. The frame of the window also plays a role and should be constructed of either vinyl or fiberglass, both of which offer a higher value of energy efficiency than wood-framed windows, which can decay over time, allowing air leaks.
Also, look for Energy Star-rated energy efficient windows. These windows are double-paned and include two numbers showing the efficiency of that particular window: the U-factor and the Solar Heat Gain coefficient. The U-factor measures how easily heat can flow through the window and should be .35 or less, the lower the number, the more energy efficient is the window. The Solar Heat Gain Coefficient, which should be .30 or below, depicts the window’s ability to absorb heat from the sun, and is more important during Alabama’s long summer months.