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Publication date: 12/01/2016

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Being a draft dodger can lower your heating bill

 

Welcome to December! It is the time of year when we listen for three sets of numbers from the weather forecast: the high temperature, the low temperature and the wind chill temperature.

According to the National Weather Service, the wind chill temperature is only defined for temperatures at or below 50 degrees and wind speeds above 3 mph. Imagine if you were sitting in your living room or kitchen and had to factor in the wind chill due to all the drafts coming into your house. Unfortunately, that is not uncommon, especially in older homes.

If you are having a draft problem in your home, you need to fix it promptly, because you are literally throwing money out the door.

“More than 50 percent of a home’s energy is lost through cracks and crevices” said Debra Dodd, spokesperson for Consumer’s Energy, consumersenergy.com.

She said that if you have an 1/8-inch crack around an exterior door, it is the equivalent of having a softball-sized hole in the door. If you have a lot of those small leaks around your windows and doors, your comfort level will go down while your heating bill will go up.

While leaks around windows and doors are big offenders, there are other areas of home where cold air can enter. That includes around electrical plugs and outlets, dryer and furnace vents, window air conditioners, recessed lighting, the flue in your fireplace and between the foundation and walls.

Big air leaks in a home are obvious, the smaller ones need your attention too. One trick to find those cracks where drafts seep in is with the flashlight test. Have someone stand outside at night and shine a flashlight around the doors and windows while you stand inside the dark room and make note of the areas that need to be sealed.

A popular choice for older inefficient windows and patio doors are the 3M Indoor and Outdoor Window Insulator Kits, solutions.3m.com, that use heat shrink window film and mounting tape.

For re-caulking windows around the exterior, use a waterproof, paintable product such as GE Window and Door Supreme Paintable Silicone, caulkyourhome.com.

On the inside around the windows or doors, use a special caulk such as DAP Seal ’n Peel removable weather strip caulk, dap.com. This caulk will give you a tight seal around the window but is also flexible enough that you can easily peel it off if you need to open the windows in the spring. You can also use rope caulk if you just need to plug a few smaller cracks around the windows.

You should also check the thresholds and weatherstripping around exterior doors that are leaking and replace if needed. Universal Weatherstrip and Building Supply, universalweatherstrip.com, 313-534-8049 in Detroit specializes in those products.

To find all the drafts in your home, consider having a blower door test performed with an infrared thermography scan. The blower door test is designed to measure the air tightness of your home and locate sources of air leakage. It will actually tell you the rate of air changes per hour in your home and match that up against an average so you can determine if your home is too drafty. With an infrared thermal scan, an infrared camera is used to detect problems such as heat gain or loss that are often the result of leaks and drafts.

Two companies that provide these are the Insulation Man, (866) 5-WARM-UP, insulatetosave.com; and Thermal Imaging Consultants, (586) 783-8885, thermalimagingconsultant.com.

If you want to do your own infrared thermal scan, the Seek Thermal Camera, thermal.com, and the Flir One from Flir, flir.com, attach to an Apple or Android smartphone and turn it into a basic thermal imaging device. Both systems are available at Amazon and other online sources for around $200.

Now that the cold weather has really arrived, don’t wait another day to start dealing with your drafts. If you feel like procrastinating, just think about that imaginary softball-sized hole in your door that Debra Dodd from Consumer’s Energy mentioned. That would sure make me jump off the couch!

Note: This article was accurate at the date of publication. However, information contained in it may have changed. If you plan to use the information contained herein for any purpose, verification of its continued accuracy is your responsibility.

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