caulking energy savings

Tip of the Month – Mind the Gap(s)!

July 23, 2016 | Love Where You Live | By: The Goodhart Group


In this month’s home improvement tip, learn how and where to caulk and weatherstrip for some significant energy savings in the months ahead.

Fact: up to 65% percent of a home’s total energy bill comes from heating and cooling costs—yet up to half of this conditioned air leaks out of the home (Energy Information Administration). You can easily put a stop to these leaks with some time and the right tools and materials. Use the dog days of August to tackle any needed caulking and weatherstipping around your home. You’ll be glad you did when those chilly winter temperatures hit in a few short months.


You may be wondering – what is the difference between caulking and weatherstripping? Weatherstripping is used to seal air leaks around movable building components, such as doors or operable windows. Caulk should be used to seal up leaks around any stationary components (think tile).


Below are some cardinal rules for caulking:

ARM YOURSELF. With a quality caulk gun, that is. You cannot squeeze caulk out of its cartridge ; you will need a caulk gun to properly dispense it.

OUT WITH THE OLD. Never caulk over old caulk! Remove the old caulk with a razor blade, which will also remove any mold or mildew that may have formed. Give the surface a thorough cleaning and allow it to completely dry before adding new caulk.

DO YOUR PREP WORK. If you are also painting, be sure to scrape, sand, and prime before caulking as paint adheres better to such surfaces. Additionally, any holes and cracks are more apparent after this prep work. Doing so will save you time and money down the line — if water collects in any of these openings, it will cause your new paint to peel.

THINK OUTSIDE THE {WINDOW} BOX Caulking is not just for windows and doors. Check for openings, leaks, and cracks in the following places as well:

  • around recessed or can lights
  • open stud cavities (the spaces between the wood framing of your walls)
  • around flues and chimneys
  • around your attic door
  • where your house framing meet the foundation



This Old House estimates that sealing gaps around doors and windows can make your home more comfortable in extreme temperatures—with the added bonus of saving you 10-15% of your energy costs. Here are a few key pointers for tackling this important project:

CHOOSE THE RIGHT PRODUCT. When choosing your weatherstripping, check to ensure that it can withstand the friction, weather, temperature changes, and wear and tear associated with its location. Ask for assistance in your home improvement store if you’re not sure what you need.

ORDER EXTRA! To determine how much weatherstripping to buy, add the perimeters of all windows and doors to be weatherstripped, then add 5-10% to accommodate any waste. And remember, measure twice, cut once.

TIME IT RIGHT. Weatherstripping should be applied to clean, dry surfaces in temperatures above 20°F.

OUT WITH THE OLD – AGAIN. Remove any old weatherstripping before installing the new stripping. You should be able to just pull it out very easily.

Click here for a step by step guide on how to install weatherstipping properly.

One last tip: door thresholds have rubber gaskets that close up air leaks, however, they wear out frequently with repeated use. Remember to replace these worn gaskets (you don’t need to replace the entire threshold) annually. Remove the worn gasket and ask your local hardware store to help you match it.


As always, if you need advice about anything related to your home, contact us. We are always happy to help.


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