Small air leaks add up to an open “window” all winter long


OK, I’m stating the obvious. When it gets cold out, you want to close your windows to help keep the heat in. What many people don’t realize is that air leakage throughout their home can add up to the equivalent of having a window wide open all winter long.

Air Leakage in a Home

The many air leaks in a home can add up to the same as leaving a window wide open all winter long.

Sometimes the holes are big as in the case of this wide open chase. But all of the little holes add up, too. One hole for an electrical wire in your attic isn’t much. But you might have dozens of these. Add to them gaps at interior partition walls, around chimneys, flues, recessed lights, and other locations where somebody has left a hole open, and the typical home has an enormous number of ways for air to leak out. As show in this simple example from one of the GreenHomes Syracuse crews, we can seal these leaks and help keep the heat in.

before and after air-sealing of electrical penetrations and partition walls

By themselves, small holes don't seem like much. But collectively, they can add up to a big problem in homes. Fortunately, a good audit can find these problems, and a good insulation crew can seal the holes BEFORE adding insulation to your home.

Air-sealing helps you close that hidden “window” and can make a huge difference in your comfort and utility bills. And it’s very important to air-seal BEFORE you add additional insulation—insulation doesn’t work well if you allow air to air to move through it.


P.S. Important Note: After insulating and air-sealing, it is very important to make sure that your combustion equipment—furnaces, boilers, water heaters, etc.—are operating safely and venting properly.  Most homeowner don’t have the equipment or skills to do this, so I won’t describe it here.  Your fuel company, a home performance specialist, or a good heating contractor should be able to do this for you.  As I’ve mentioned previously, carbon monoxide is not something to take lightly.

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5 Responses to “Small air leaks add up to an open “window” all winter long”

  1. Air leakage–even the small cracks add up « GreenHomes America Says:

    […] this brings me back to air-sealing.  The little leaks do add up to big utility bills and even moisture problems in your […]

  2. Homeowner with too much time on his hands? « GreenHomes America Says:

    […] By greenhomesamerica Matt insulated his own attic.  And he did it right by air-sealing (and more air-sealing) first–please, please also air-seal first!   But as he points out, the DIY […]

  3. Attic air-sealing gets attention « GreenHomes America Says:

    […] a bit short, but they’ve got the right idea.  See DIY attic insulation and air-sealing and sealing small air leaks for more information about how to do this […]

  4. Rebekah Luhrs Says:

    Hello, I am working publishing an energy tips savers book and would like to use the diagram of air leakage shown in this article. I am seeing the image all over and having a difficult time finding the owner/ seeing if there is a copy right issue.

    Did you need permission to use this and if so, could you direct me the contact person you corresponded with?


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