An energy efficient home is better for both the planet and the pocketbook. Even small steps can save money and increase comfort.
Sealing your home with caulk is one of the simplest and most effective methods of weatherization.
Without proper sealing, many of the more labor-intensive and expensive measures may not yield a higher level of energy efficency because air leaks may still exist.
Caulking is a preventative measure that can be done by most homeowners. And it can save on costs that are typically incurred with other approaches to energy efficiency.
Choosing A Quality Caulk
One of the most important steps to creating an energy efficient home begins at the store shelf. It is important to choose a high-quality caulk to achieve the best results.
Most experts agree that the cost of sealing your home will pay for itself within one year of energy savings.
Therefore, spending a little more up-front on high-quality caulks and sealants may yield greater savings in the long run.
High-quality sealants have the following characteristics:
Caulk that quickly fails by pulling away from the surface shortly after you apply it isn't a good use of your time or money.
The caulk you select needs to be able to move with the sometimes extreme movement a home experiences from heat and cold.
If it's not flexible or becomes brittle in the cold it won't be able to handle this movement and will crack or split.
Stay away from silicone products or products containing silicone – they do not offer either of these important qualities and make it nearly impossible
(without a lot of surface prep) to apply a caulk that will over anywhere silicone has been applied.
The less a caulk shrinks, the less likely cracks will be completely filled.
Energy Star Approved
An Energy Star approved, energy-efficient product may be eligible for a federal tax credit.
Common Air Leaks
After you've purchased a high-quality caulk, take a walk around your home to identify areas where air is penetrating.
You can check for air leaks inside your home by moving your hand around the windows and doors on a windy day.
If you can feel air movement, you need to caulk the gap.
Some critical areas to tightly seal include:
- around doors and windows (inside and outside);
- places where brick and wood siding meet;
- joints between the chimney and the siding;
- between the foundation and the walls;
- around mail chutes (inside and outside);
- around electrical and gas service entrances, phone lines;
- around outdoor water faucets and pipes;
- where dryer vents pass through walls;
- cracks in bricks, siding, stucco and foundation;
- around air conditioners and central air units;
- around vents and fans;
- wherever two different materials meet.
Other areas to consider include joints between walls and floors, and walls and ceilings, recessed light fixtures,
return air vents, plumbing stacks, attic accesses, and any other surface cracks or gaps around the home.
As a general rule, caulking should be applied wherever two different building materials meet on the interior and exterior of your home. Different building materials will expand and contract at various rates.
Because of extreme temperatures, some caulking materials may dry out, crack, and develop holes. When this happens air can infiltrate in these areas and they need to be caulked again.
(Caulking done on the interior of your home will generally last longer than on the exterior.)
To properly seal these areas it's important to follow proper techniques to ensure the tightest, longest lasting seal.
For a caulking primer, please see the Caulking 101 page. www.sashco.com/hi/caulking101.html
Common Air Leaks
Incentives for Energy Efficiency
DSIRE is a comprehensive source of information on state, local, utility and federal incentives and policies that promote renewable energy and energy efficiency.
Established in 1995 and funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, DSIRE is an ongoing project of the N.C. Solar Center and the Interstate Renewable Energy Council.
For more information, please visit the DSIRE website. http://dsireusa.org