Home Weatherization


The typical home is said to have enough air leaks that’s equivalent to having a window open year-round. If you’re like the typical homeowner, that means you’re basically wasting 20% or more of the energy you pay to heat and cool your home. Needless to say, weatherizing your home can add tremendous energy and cost savings.

In this first of three series of articles regarding weatherizing your home, we will dive in a little deeper and discuss why you need it, where to look for air leaks, and how to figure out if you need it.

It Goes Beyond the Savings

Yes, by weatherizing your home you will feel more comfortable during the hottest and coldest of months, and save energy and money in the process. However, weatherizing goes further, beyond the idea of protecting the envelop of the house to prevent loss of energy from the unwanted exchange of inside and outside air.

Here’s what you may not know: Preventing the unwanted circulation or infiltration of air also reduces humidity, dust and pollen; eliminates pests and noise; and even prevents the growth and spread of mold that may eventually compromise the integrity of a building support structure. In essence, you can say it’s an investment in your health and your home.

Weatherization MethodExample of BenefitsTotal Effects
Sealing Reduces humidity, dust and pollen Saves energy and money
Insulating Eliminates pests and noise
Caulking Prevent growth and spread of mold

Where to Look for It

Before you know what to look for, you need to know where to look. You may already know gaps and cracks in window and door frames are one of the biggest culprits of drafts, but the infiltration actually occurs throughout the house in and around these common areas:

Air Leaks from the OutsideAir Leaks from the InsideOther Problem Areas
  • Cable, TV and phone wiring
  • Chimney
  • Door and window frames
  • Electronic outlets on exterior walls (inside the house)
  • Gas service entraces
  • Kitchen and dryer exhaust fans
  • Mail chutes
  • Outdoor faucet
  • Wall air conditioning units
  • Attic stairs / hatch
  • Duct register
  • Dropped soffit
  • Plumbing vent stack
  • Recessed lights
  • Attic space
  • Basements
  • Crawl space
  • Floor
  • Laundry room
  • Space between foundation and walls
  • Space between chimney and siding
  • Roof

How to Look for It

The easiest way to get started is to call your local utility company to ask if they offer either a home audit / inspection rebate program (in exchange for the job of weatherizing your home) and/or cover a percentage of the cost of weatherization. Some states, such as Georgia, even have weatherization assistance programs where qualifying families can receive free home inspections and weatherization installations.

If you refer to or have to do it yourself, have no fear, there are simple expensive gadget-free tests you can conduct to see what’s going on in your home. Below is a summary of the self-test methods as well as the other options you have:

WhoWhatWhere / HowWhen
Utility Companies Home Audit Rebate Some utility companies provide free or discounted home audit in exchange for the job of weatherizing your home N/A
Weatherization Discounts Some utility companies provide discounts on certain weatherization materials and labor N/A
State or Local Gov’t Agencies Weatherization Assistance Programs Some states like Georgia have weatherization assistance for qualifying families N/A
Do It Yourself Incense Test
  • Turn off the heat
  • Shut all windows and doors
  • Turn on all the fans (e.g., bathroom or kitchen exhaust fans) that blow air outside
  • Light a incense stick and pass it along the edges of potential leak spots
  • Smoke sucking out or blowing in signals a draft
Cool, windy day
Ray of Light Test
  • Turn on your exhaust fans
  • Shine a flash light over potential gaps while a second person observes from the outside of the house
  • Large cracks will appear as rays of light
  • Small cracks will be difficult to detect using this method
Paper Test
  • Get whole paper such as printing paper or notebook paper
  • Shut a door or window on the piece of paper
  • If you can’t pull it out without tearing it, that means there’s a significant gap

Next article will cover:

  • What to do
  • Comparisons of weatherization products
  • Payback periods and more

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