• Skill Level: Beginner - Intermediate Help
    Time Required: 2 - 4 Hours

    The air ducts that distribute warm and cool air throughout your home are usually made from thin metal material. So when they pass through your attic, garage, basement, and other unconditioned spaces, they can easily lose or gain heat. In fact, uninsulated or poorly-insulated ducts can lose from 10% to 30% of the energy used to heat and cool your home. On top of that, think about all the holes you have in your walls. As discussed in another project, it's important to seal your windows and doors. But electrical outlets, phone jacks, plumbing, and even your chimney are other potential energy leakers. This page focuses on all of these problem areas - and suggests some fast and simple solutions.

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Seal Your Air Ducts

Air ducts can lose up to 20% of the air they distribute because of leaks, holes, gaps, and poor connections. And if they're not insulated properly, they can make your heating, ventilating, and air conditioning system work harder and increase your energy bills. One of the best solutions is to seal and insulate your ducts with mastic sealant and metal tape. Of course, if you have several hard-to-reach areas, you might want to hire a professional.

Seal Your Outlets and Switches

Many people forget that behind their outlets and switches are electrical boxes that open up into the wall cavity. Chances are that air is leaking through these holes. In fact, the Department of Energy estimates that 2% of all air leakage comes though electrical outlets. The best way to reduce these leaks is to install foam gaskets or plug hole covers that are specifically designed to block the leaks without blocking the functionality.

Seal Your Cable and Phone Jacks

Just like electrical outlets, cable and phone jacks open up into the wall cavity. And just like outlets, the best way to eliminate any possible air leakage is to install simple foam gaskets that are specifically designed for the task.

Cover Your Window AC and Registers

If you're not going to remove your window air conditioner during the winter months, you can still prevent cold drafts by using an air conditioner cover with a wind block liner. As for the drafts that come through your air conditioner registers, don't use messy tape or cardboard. Instead, simply slip on clear plastic register covers. They're so easy to install and remove that you don't even need tools.

Seal Around Your Plumbing

If you take a quick look around your home, there's a good chance you'll find gaps around the cut-throughs for pipes - called plumbing penetrations - that connect to your kitchen, bathroom, laundry, and other rooms that need water. Check in the vanity or cabinet below each sink, locate the openings, and create an air-tight seal with low expansion spray foam. This could help reduce up to 13% of the air leaks in your home.

Seal Your Chimney

Your chimney is, by its very nature, a big hole in your house. In fact, it can account for as much as 14% of the unwanted air leakage in your home. Luckily, there's a simple and effective way to seal it. It's called a chimney balloon - and it's easy to install, easy to remove, and very effective. Simply insert it into your chimney, inflate it, and you're done. Best of all, a bright red card will hang down to remind you to take it out before you start a fire.