March 9, 2011

They say it's an ill wind that blows no good. But I don't know what's good about the cold draft that runs down my neck while I'm sitting in my friend's rec room lazy boy watching TV. Now I'm not about to blame my friends for his house having sure you, and he, know how easy it is to fix them. We are going to cover a few things on how to stop drafts and save money in the process.

Three things make cold air blow around in a house.

First, warm air rises; that means the space that it leaves below itself can only be filled by air from somewhere else. Think of a chimney and you'll get the idea. If you have air at different temperatures in the house, this effect will cause a continuous circulation of air...otherwise known as draft.

Second, wind blowing on the outside creates a pressure that tries to suck everything toward the lee or far side of the house. This includes air, which, when it moves, you've got it, is called a draft.

Third, if you have forced air heating or air conditioning, you're blowing it around on purpose. If this air is not as warm as you want it to be it will feel like a cold draft.

To stop all of them you first have to limit the amount of air traveling in and out and around your home. Check and replace if necessary the weatherstripping around the windows and doors. Run a bead of sealant under the windowsills and around the frame. Put gaskets behind electrical outlets. Squirt foam behind the baseboards. You'll also want to check the insulation both in your basement, if you have one, and on the floor of your attic. Remember, insulation by itself will not stop drafts, especially if it's glass fiber. If you've got heating ducts in the attic, you'll need to insulate them for sure.

During the next few weeks, we'll be covering each of these comfort improvement ideas in detail and describing the materials you'll need. You can look forward to a more comfortable home plus lower fuel bills.

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  • Hello Nate, Wanted to let you know that my energy usage for mid Feb. - mid March was down from last year for the same period: electric down 34% and gas down 49%. What a difference it made putting in the insulation, changing some lightbulbs, and sealing up the band joists and crawl space.

    DeLynn C, Ann Arbor
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    David B, Ypsilanti
  • After I had an energy audit by (an insulation company) I added insulation but still noticed a lot of the cold air leaks – Thank you for taking the time to explain to me and show me what was happening (using) your "blower door" – I will be doing air sealing next!"

    Jackie K, Ann Arbor
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