You would not leave a window partially open when you are using your air conditioner, but there are other ways for the conditioned air in your home to escape. If, despite your best efforts, you cannot get your energy bills under control, air leaks may be the culprit. The problem is that these gaps are not always easy to see. It can take some work to find these leaks so you can seal them all and prevent the loss of cooled air. Here are some ways to do this:
Inspect the Home
Carry out an inspection on the outside and the inside of the home. You don’t need to be a professional to do this; you just need to pay attention to detail. Inside the home, check areas such as the:
- Window frames
- Door frames
- The fireplace
- The attic
Checking the outside of the home can be a bit more challenging. Part of the difficulty has to do with the connection of two different materials, and exterior installations like gutters and siding. Areas you should check for air leaks include:
- The chimney
- The siding
- The corners of the house
- Pipes attached to the house
- Exterior caulking
Testing the Building
A pressurization test is an effective means of determining where your house is losing air. This will force more air out through these spaces and help you quickly spot the sources of the leaks. Before the test is done, you will have to:
- Shut all the doors and windows
- Seal the fireplace flue
- Turn off the water heater
Once these items are taken care of, turn the air conditioner on and walk through the home feeling for air leaks around every window and door that leads to the exterior. Another great way to test for leaks is to use incense. The smoke from an incense stick will move more quickly around air that is being pushed out of or pulled into your home.
With a professional energy audit you will have an accurate idea of how much it costs to cool your home. This will also assess the quality of your home’s insulation. So if you feel that your energy bills are too high, do not delay in arranging to get an energy audit.
Once you have detected and sealed all the air leaks, you will be surprised at the drop in your energy bills. Sealing leaks is not an expensive job, so you can get this done quickly and at an affordable price. If the insulation is part of the problem, the fix will be more costly, and it will take longer, but you will eventually see the results in your monthly bill. Remember that while you can probably find some leaks on your own, it is best to talk to a professional about dealing with the problem.
I regularly work with homeowners who are in the process of preparing their home for sale and with potential home buyers who are shopping around. The home inspection I perform does cover obvious leak areas, but I don’t go through pressurizing the home. I can test the heat pump or air conditioner to ensure that it works as of the date I perform the inspection, but I can’t guarantee that it is efficient enough to maintain a low energy bill. Give me a call at 480-570-5615 if you’re in the Gilbert or east valley area and require the assistance of a home inspector.