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Escape routes: Where heat is fleeing the house

Is your house feeling a little drafty now that the winter weather has arrived? The Energy Department estimates that you can reduce your heating and cooling needs up to 30 percent by properly insulating and weatherizing your home. Here are some simple preventive measures you can take inside your home to make it more comfortable and energy-efficient.

  • Where heat may escape your home

  • Some weatherstripping options


The average house — even when well-insulated — contains cracks and gaps between building materials that can add up to a hole about 14 inches square.

Access hatches: A ceiling opening from the living area into an unheated attic can be a place for heat loss. The edges should be weatherstripped, and the backside of the attic door insulated.

Percentage of air leakage from ceilings, walls and floors in a typical home

Attic holes: Holes to accommodate pipes, ducts and vents can release a tremendous amount of heat and should be sealed with a general-purpose caulk or foam spray.

Air leakage from ducts

Recessed lights, wiring and plumbing: In insulated ceilings can result in heat loss. High- temperature, flexible caulk can be used to fill gaps.

Air leakage from plumbing penetrations

Fireplace dampers: Missing or poorly fitting dampers allow air to move freely up and down the chimney. To test the damper’s seal, close the flue, light a small piece of paper and watch the smoke. If the smoke goes up the flue, there’s an air leak.

Air leakage from fireplace

Air conditioners: Window units should be removed during winter. If they can’t be removed, the area around the unit should be sealed with removable rope caulk. A window insulation blanket can reduce air infiltration.

Electric outlets: Cold air can seep through the sockets. Installing foam gaskets on all switches and outlets will help minimize this effect.

Air leakage from electric outlets

Basement: Holes to accommodate laundry ducts and vents or plumbing pipes can be big sources of heat loss and need to be reduced with expanding foam.

Air leakage from fans and vents

How does your home measure up?

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