By: Keith Harnish – Ultimate Comfort Heating & Cooling LLC
With rising costs, everyone is looking for ways to save money, including air conditioning bills. Unfortunately, one thing that will quickly sabotage your money-saving efforts is air leaks.
During the warmer months, hidden cracks and openings in your home allow warm air in and conditioned air out. This can lead to uncomfortable temperatures and/or a cooling system working harder than it has to, potentially ending in more repairs, a shorter lifespan for your HVAC system, and higher cooling bills.
Air leakage accounts for 25-40% of the average resident’s energy for heating and cooling. Furthermore, ENERGY STAR states, “This leakage of air decreases the comfort of a residence by allowing moisture, cold drafts, and unwanted noise to enter and may lower indoor air quality by allowing in dust and airborne pollutants.”
Sealing up some of the leaks in your home can improve your family’s comfort and lower your cooling bills. There are two steps to minimizing air leaks in your home – finding and sealing the leaks.
How to Find Air Leaks
The Candle Test
Smaller leaks can be detected with the candle test. First, turn off your air conditioner. Then light a candle and place it in front of areas prone to leaks. If you see the flame flicker or dance, you have a leak.
Air Leak Detector
A thermal leak detector detects temperature differences, and an ultrasonic leak detector detects sound waves produced by air leaks. These devices can be purchased at most hardware stores and are reasonably affordable and easy to use. Just turn the device on and move it around areas prone to leaks. Depending on the device, an indicator may change color or beep when it detects a leak.
Blower Door Test
A blower door test is the most reliable and comprehensive way to find any air leak in your home; however, it is best done by a trained home energy professional. To conduct a blower door test, a device called a blower door fan is inserted into the frame of an exterior doorway. The fan depressurizes or draws all of the air out of your home, allowing outside air to come into your home through any opening.
How to Seal Air Leaks
Once you know where the air leaks are, there are several ways to seal them, depending on where and how big they are. Here are some tips:
- Caulk and weatherstrip around doors and windows that leak
- Caulk around plumbing, ductwork, electrical wires, etc., that come through your floors, ceilings, etc.
- Insulate around recessed lights
- Weatherstrip the attic door
- Install foam gaskets behind electrical outlets and light switches
- Use foam sealant for leaks larger than a quarter of an inch
- Seal air leaks around fireplace chimneys with fire-resistant materials
- Install a set of glass fireplace doors and keep them closed when not in use
- Install a fireplace plug (a.k.a. flue blockers, chimney pillows, draft stoppers)
What if Your Cooling Bill Still Seems Too High?
If you’ve found and sealed most of the leaks in your home, and you still feel like your cooling bill is exorbitantly high, it’s time to call in one of the trained specialists at Ultimate Comfort Heating & Cooling.
Your HVAC system may have an issue – failing components, inadequate refrigerant, clogged air filter, etc. – that can be repaired to lower your cooling bills. Or it could be that your system is just too old or not energy efficient. Many heating and cooling systems we install are ENERGY STAR® qualified, which can significantly lower your utility bills.
Contact us at 610-750-8314 or connect with us online for a FREE Comfort Analysis. Estimates and consultations for new systems are provided FREE of charge.