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How to Seal Your Home to Save On Heating and Cooling

Family in kitchen reviewing a document
Family in kitchen reviewing a document
Family in kitchen reviewing a document

One of the best ways for homeowners to lower their HVAC bills is to eliminate air leaks. Learn how here. 

There are several things you can do to cut back on your home heating and cooling costs, including switching to a smart thermostat, upgrading your HVAC equipment, and implementing passive heating and cooling elements into your home design. But one of the best ways for homeowners to lower their HVAC bills is to eliminate air leaks.

Sealing and insulating your home can add up to make a big difference because more drastic measures like replacing your HVAC equipment or modifying your home design can still be undermined by drafty windows and doors. 

Get smart about savings with a home energy audit

Sealing your home the smart way begins with identifying the weak spots in your home envelope. Thanks to modern methods, you can pinpoint these vulnerabilities with a service called a home energy audit.

In a home energy audit, trained professionals use specialized equipment to detect and measure air leaks that are invisible to the naked eye. A thorough home energy audit should conclude with a detailed, data-based overview of the home's energy efficiency, as well as specific recommendations for improving performance. Many homeowners like to schedule a second home energy audit after making improvements to verify that their home is more efficient than before.

Home energy audits often cost a few hundred dollars, so it pays to call around for price quotes if you're thinking about scheduling one. It's also worthwhile to check with your local government or energy utilities to see if they offer any free or reduced rate energy auditing services. Each home that reduces its energy consumption helps to relieve pressure on the energy grid and mitigate greenhouse gas emissions, so many cities and energy utilities are expanding their efforts to help homeowners access these services.

How to eliminate air leaks throughout your home

If you're not ready to arrange a professional home energy audit or if you've already done one and want to start making improvements, there are several leak-sealing steps you can take on your own. Here are some of the most effective ways to shore up your home envelope:

  • Find and seal drafts. Sometimes this is easier said than done, but there are some simple methods of draft detection. Turn off your HVAC system completely, preferably on a windy day, and examine the exterior walls of every room. Use your hand to feel for the flow of air around windows, doors, and visible cracks. You can also use a candle or a handheld draft detector, which emits a smooth stream of odorless smoke to detect air movement. When you find drafts, seal them using caulking compound for fine cracks and spray foam insulation for larger gaps.
  • Inspect and replace your weather stripping as needed. The weather stripping around your doors and windows should be springy and create a tight seal. If it's cracked, brittle, torn, or otherwise damaged, it should be removed and replaced. DIY weather stripping repair kits are available at most hardware stores.
  • Inspect and upgrade your attic insulation as needed. Poor attic insulation will let your furnace's heat escape quickly in the winter, and allow superheated attic air to emanate into your home in the summer. Measure the depth of the insulation on your attic floor and compare it to the Department of Energy's recommendations, which vary by climate zone.
  • If you have a fireplace, inspect the damper. A loose-fitting damper can be a major vulnerability in your home envelope, not to mention a potential hazard when operating the fireplace. If you have doubts about your ability to replace the damper yourself, hire a professional – this is one job you'll want done right.
  • Ensure that the attic door closes tightly. Sometimes attic doors can warp or sag, allowing your HVAC-treated air to escape and untreated air to infiltrate your living spaces. A warped attic hatch may need to be replaced, but a sagging hatch can often be fixed by tightening or replacing the tension springs.
  • Install foam gaskets behind light switches and outlet covers. This is especially important for switches and outlets that feel drafty. These inexpensive gaskets are easy to install – just remove the cover plate, put the gasket in place, and replace the cover.
  • Upgrade inefficient doors and windows. This isn't a DIY project and it's usually not a cheap one, either. But if you have thin exterior doors and single-pane windows, you're losing energy through them. Arrange a consultation and get a price quote from a reputable installer so you can budget for this worthwhile upgrade.

Our Heating & Cooling Protection Plans can help you cover the cost of repairs, maintenance, and more.

Browse our protection plans

Our plans give you lots of options, so you can get just what you need for your home without paying for coverage you don't need.

Terms and conditions contained in the protection plans may limit our contract obligations due to coverage caps, coverage exclusions, and our cash back offer. View plan details for more information.

*Repair claims are limited to $500 per service call and $2,000 per plan in the aggregate per plan term. Plans are provided by NRG Protects Inc. Independent contractors will be performing various services under the plans. In some instances we may make a cash payment in lieu of repairs or replacement in the amount of actual cost, which may be less than retail, to repair or replace any covered system, component, or appliance.

**If your authorized repair technician determines that the water heater is deemed irreparable, we will give you a credit of $500 towards a replacement water heater by your authorized repair technician.

Once repair plans commence, there is a 30-day waiting period before you may request services for a claim. Unless the plan provider elects not to renew the plan, upon expiration of the first year, the plan will automatically renew at the standard rate and terms unless you opt out of the auto-renewal option in writing by mail at P.O. Box 2309, Houston, TX 77252- 2309, by email at or by calling us at 1.855.241.9094. Sales tax will be added in select states.

This is a summary of what the provider will and will not cover under the plan, and is subject to the Terms and Conditions of the plan. The Terms and Conditions may limit the provider's contractual obligations due to coverage caps, coverage exclusions and any cash-back option available under the plan. Please refer to the Sample Terms & Conditions for details.