Do you like the idea of outside air creeping into your home? How about conditioned and heated air escaping outside? If you pay your monthly energy bill, your answer is probably “NO!” Well, that’s what happens when air leaks are left unsealed in your home.  Here are a few warning signs that you’ve got more than a few air leaks:  Your HVAC system is constantly running. Your utility bills have noticeably increased. Different rooms have different temperatures. Your allergies act up even when you’re inside all day.  According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), homeowners can save an average of 15% on their heating and cooling costs by air sealing and adding insulation to their homes. Other benefits of air sealing include increasing the lifespan of your A/C and heating units and improving your family’s physical health.  While you can hire a professional to air seal your home, it is also entirely possible to do the job yourself. Read on to learn about the basic processes of identifying and sealing different areas of your house.  How To Identify Air Leaks Visual Inspection  The first step you need to take in identifying air leaks in your home is to take a visual inventory of your home’s wear and tear. Survey both the outside and inside of your property and look for any cracks or gaps that are visible to the naked eye. Revisit old insulation materials and make sure they’re still intact. Scan the window and door frames during the day to make sure no sunlight is able to sneak through the cracks.  DIY Techniques To Find Large Air Leaks After you’ve noted all the air leaks that you can see, it’s time to double check for large air leaks that aren't so obvious. Below are a variety of DIY techniques that can help you locate large air leaks in your windows, doors, and vents. Dollar Bill Technique: Stick a dollar bill into the frame of your exterior door or window and close it. If you’re able to easily slip the bill out again, chances are high that you have an air leak. Hand Test: Locate larger air leaks using your sense of touch. On a cold day when your heater is running, hold your hand in front of any closed exterior doors, windows, or vents and fans. If you can feel cold air coming in, you have an air leak. Flashlight Method: After the sun has gone down, ask a friend or family member to stand outside while you shine a flashlight at any suspected air leaks. If they see any light shining through the cracks, there’s an air leak.  DIY Techniques To Find Small Leaks With air leaks, you do need to sweat the small stuff. Small leaks can come from several places, including light fixtures, electrical outlets, baseboards, and crown moldings. Try any of the below methods to identify small leaks in your home.  Candle Test: Sniff out smaller leaks with a candle test. Close all the doors and windows of your home and make sure the A/C or heater is off. Light a candle and walk to areas that you suspect have air leaks. Place the candle near the area you want to test, and watch the flame. Flame movement indicates an air leak.  Paper Test: Can’t find a candle? Use paper, instead. Hold a piece of paper near any possible problem areas, such as electrical outlets or windows. If the paper moves, you know there’s an air leak. Incense Test (Depressurization): Smoke out suspected problem areas with this depressurization method. On a cold and windy day, close all exterior doors and windows, and turn on all fans in your kitchen and bathrooms. Pass a lit stick of...

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Basements are notoriously chilly, especially in our cold northern climate. If you only use your basement for storage, you may not need it to be warm and cozy. But if you have a basement family room, bedroom, or bathroom, you need it to be comfortable enough that you actually want to spend time down there. If your basement is freezing, there are a variety of tactics you can use to turn up the heat and improve energy efficiency. Here are a few ways to keep your basement warm this winter. Seal Leaks Cracks or gaps in your basement walls or floors allow cold air to seep into your home and heated air to escape.  Check for cracks in the foundation, flooring, and walls, as well as gaps around windows and doors. Seal up small cracks with the appropriate caulk, foam insulation, or weather stripping. If you notice a significant crack in your home’s foundation, have a professional take a look at it to make sure you don’t have bigger issues on your hands. Update Older Windows Replace old drafty windows and doors with new, energy-efficient options. If your windows are warped, broken, or have damaged seals or single-pane glass, it may be time to swap them out. When replacing windows, choose energy-efficient varieties, such as double- or triple-paned glass windows. Add More Insulation Insulation reduces the rate of heat transfer in a space — in other words, it keeps warm air in and cold air out. If your basement isn’t insulated sufficiently, it won’t retain heat as well as it should, and your other efforts to keep your basement warm won’t be as effective as they would be otherwise. If your basement already has interior walls covering the foundation, you may be able to add additional spray foam insulation. If your basement foundation is visible, you might want to consider framing in your basement walls so you can add insulation. In addition, check to be sure you have enough insulation around windows and doors, and add more as necessary.  Install Carpet or Add Area Rugs Your walls aren’t the only factor in keeping your basement warm: the type of flooring you have plays a role as well. If you have bare concrete floors, consider covering them up with wall-to-wall carpet or area rugs. Not only is carpet nicer to walk on, it can also help insulate your floor and keep your basement warmer. Even placing throw rugs over the more highly-trafficked areas of your basement can help keep your feet warm and insulate the floor a bit. Note that if your basement tends to leak or flood regularly, you’ll want to take care of that first before installing carpet or rugs. Install In-Floor Heating An in-floor radiant heat system is another way to warm up your basement. These systems circulate hot water beneath your floor, warming the cement. That heat rises throughout the room and keeps your basement warm.  Keep in mind that in-floor heat is easier to install in a new construction home. It is still possible to install in existing basement flooring, but the process is more involved. Add an Electric Baseboard Heater or Wood Stove You could also consider installing an individual heating unit in your basement, such as an electric baseboard heater or a wood or pellet stove. If you’re up for hauling firewood or bags of wood pellets into your basement, a stove can add cozy ambience in addition to heat.  Electric baseboard heaters aren’t as attractive as a wood stove, but if that’s not a concern for your space, they’ll do the job well. You’ll need one for each room, as the heat from baseboard heaters doesn’t easily travel from room to room. You can...

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