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75+ Ways To Lower Cooling Expenses – Part 3

Without Replacing Your HVAC System

©

(Most Of These Ways Also Lower Heating Bills)

This Is Part 3 Of Our Article — Click Here To Read Part 1: AlsPlumbing.com 50+ Ways to Lower Cooling Costs Part-2.

Lower Cooling Cost — 75+ Ways. This is Part-3 Of Our Article About How To Lower Cooling Expenses Without Replacing Your HVAC System.   

NOTE: Most Of These Efforts Also Lower Lower Heating Bills.

Al’s Plumbing, in Plano, Texas Provides Full-Service Plumbing; Maintenance, Repairs, and Replacements For Every Plumbing Component In Your Home. We sell and install gas and electric water heaters.  Al’s is near your home in; Murphy, TX; Rowlette, TX; and Wylie, Texas.  We service all homes in southern Collin County, TX, and northeastern Dallas County, TX with no additional travel charges.

Call Al’s Today To Discuss Any Concerns Or Problems You Have With Your Home’s Plumbing. 

We will arrange an appointment at your convenience.

What’s Discussed In Part-3:

  •   7. Where Homes Leak (the most) Air  — And How To Close The Holes To Lower Lower Cooling Expenses.  NOTE: Continued in Part-4.
  • PLUS The products needed to seal the most common leaks are shown.

7. Locations Where Homes Leak (the most) Air

Close The Holes To Lower Cooling Expense (& heating costs).

  • 31% Gaps or Openings in; Ceilings, Floors & Walls.
  • 15% Average Ductwork Leakage — Note: Ductwork Sealing was discussed in Part-1.
  • 14% Wood-Burning Fireplace DAMPER LEFT OPEN OR DAMAGED — Always close the damper once the fireplace has completely cooled.
  • 13% Plumbing Penetrations Through Walls.

VV  Continued In Part-4:  VV

  • 11%  Exterior Doors.
  • 10% Windows.  Note: Windows leak along the top, sides, & bottom of sashes.  Sashes are moving windows.  Note: Some window’s upper sash doesn’t move.
  •  2% Electrical Outlets & Switches

Source: U.S. Department Of Energy (DOE)

There are more places a home leaks air than listed below.  This list shows the locations where the most air leaks into the home.


Openings In Ceilings

Sealing Ceiling Openings Is One Of The Best Ways To Lower Cooling Expenses (and heating).   

Why?  Because Heat Travels To Cold — Year-Round. 

  • During Winter: — heat from living spaces rises into the attic — through unsealed openings in ceilings.
  • During Summer:  heat from the attic (which can reach 170 degrees) lowers into living spaces — through unsealed openings in ceilings.

Click Here To See A Thermal-Image Of An Attic At 170 Degrees: Attic Temperature At 170 Degrees.

Source: https://www.sciencenewsforstudents.org/article/explainer-how-heat-moves


photo of led light bulb

Image Source: Pexels.com

Pre-1990 Ceiling Electrical Boxes — Leak Air At 3 Separate Locations

Click Just Below To See A Ceiling Electrical Box With:  

1. A Large Gap Between Box & Ceiling + 2. Assorted Vent-Holes + 3. Electrical Wires Entering At Unsealed Holes: 3 Common Air Leaks At Ceiling Electrical Boxes.

In the past — incandescent bulbs generated tremendous amounts of heat.  To allow that heat to escape — old ceiling-mount electrical boxes have vent-holes.   These vent-holes allow air leakage into/from the attic 24/7 & year-round.  Today’s LED bulbs produce only 10% of the heat generated by incandescent bulbs.  Vent-holes are no longer needed and waste energy.

There’s No Need To Replace Existing Ceiling Boxes — just close the holes with caulk to lower cooling expenses.

Seal All Holes With Caulk:

  • Vent-Holes with caulk
  • Where Electrical Wires enter
  • The Gap Between The Ceiling & Electrical Box.

TIP: Caulk is much easier to work with than Spray-Foam (it’s very sticky and excess often must be removed).  Use Spray-Foam only when a gap is too big to seal with caulk

The 2021 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) Requires
AIRTIGHT; Ceiling-Mount Electrical Boxes, Wall Outlet Boxes * & Light Switch Boxes * (* on exterior walls)

This Eliminates Air Leakage -PLUS- Vapor (humidity) Entering Exterior Walls & Attic.

Image Source: Amazon.com Embedded Link

SHOWN: Today’s Ceiling Electrical Box.

Click On Image To; View Product, Read Details, or Purchase From Amazon.com

TIP: It’s Not Necessary To Replace Existing Ceiling Electrical Boxes.  You can caulk all air leaks closed.




NOTE: This Section Is Only For Pre-2012 Homes

With (unsealed) RECESSED CAN LIGHTS

To Skip This Section — Scroll Down To The Next Triple Lines.

Image Source: Shutterstock

Shown: Recessed Can Lighting

Air leaks into the ceiling waste the most energy. Why? Because heat travels toward cold — year-round.  Heat rises into the attic in winter -AND- attic heat enters the living spaces during summer.  A DFW attic can reach up to 170 degrees on a sunny summer day.

Click Here To See A Thermal-Image Of An Attic At 170 Degrees: Attic Temperature At 170 Degrees.

Recessed Can Lights Likely Represent The Biggest Opportunity to Lower Cooling Expenses (and heating).

Today’s Building Code Requires:

  • Recessed Can Lights Must Meet: IC-AT (IC=Insulation Contact & AT=Air Tight) “ASTM E283” Rating. 
  • To Earn The IC-AT Rating — Can lights must not leak more than 2 Cubic Feet Per Minute (CFM) during a Blower-Door Air Leakage Test (b) — at 150% of the normal test pressure.
  • Converting the Blower Door Test Air Leakage (at 150% of normal blower door test pressure) TO Natural Air Leakage (what will occur naturally) = 2 CFMb / 30 = .075 CFMn
  • This means .075 CFMn of air — naturally leaks each minute PER Can Light
  • Take .075 CFMn X 60 minutes = 4.5 Cubic Feet Of Natural Air Leakage Per Day — For Each Recessed Can Fixture.

Example: 

  • A 2,000 Square Foot Home, with 8′ Ceilings, holds 16,000 Cubic Feet Of Air.
  • 1 Can Light (ASTM E283 Rated) = Leaks A Total Of 4.5 Cubic Feet Of Air Per Day.
  • 10 Can Lights (meeting today’s air leakage standards) —  Leak around 45 Cubic Feet of Air – Per Day.
  • 10 Can Lights leak 16,500 Cubic Feet Of Air — Per Year.  That’s more air than this example home holds.

Today’s More Efficient “Can Light” Substitute

For Any Home — Without Existing Can Lights.

  • LED “can-less” fixtures are Surface-Mounted.  They can be mounted to an airtight ceiling electric box (discussed earlier).

Image Source: Amazon.com Embedded Link

SHOWN: Flush-Mount LED Ceiling Light — In 3 Light Colors.  No hole (cut into the ceiling) is required.

Click On Image To; View Product, Read Details, or Purchase From Amazon.com

Note: This is 1 of many flush-mount LED light fixtures available on Amazon.com

Source: https://www.builderonline.com/building/building-enclosure/air-sealing-whys-and-hows_o

 

There’s No Need To Replace Existing Recessed Can Lights

Today’s Can Light Retrofit

For A (Pre-2012) Home — With Existing Can Lights.

  • If your Pre-2009 home has Recessed Can Lights — they have ventilation holes (shown just below).
  • Vent holes allowed (hot incandescent) light bulb heat to escape into the attic.
  • Each older recessed can light represents a 24/7 air leak into the attic (winter) OR out of attic into living space (summer).
  • Additionally, Pre-2012 recessed can lights could not be covered with insulation (due to fire hazard caused by light bulb heat).
  • This also allowed additional thermal heat loss (as compared to an insulated ceiling).

Image Source: YouTube Embedded Video

SHOWN: Vent Holes In Recessed Can Lights + Gap Between Can Light And Ceiling

 

 This Easy DIY Retro Fit LED Light Converts A Recessed Can Light To LED Light -PLUS- Seals Air Leaks (if caulked at ceiling). 

Note: Existing Fixture Remains.  No Electrical Rewiring Is Required

These LED light have a screw-in electrical connection — that screws into the (existing fixture’s) light bulb socket.

Image Source: YouTube Embedded Video

SHOWN: Before & After Photo Of Recessed Can Light — Fitted With An LED Light.

You Can Buy LED Recessed-Can Retrofit Lights At Many Locations — One Source Is Shown Just Below.

SHOWN: LED Retro-Fit Recessed Can Light Fixture (no wiring required)

Image Source: Amazon.com Embedded Link

Click On Image To; See Product, Read Details, or Purchase From Amazon.com (directly from this site).

 

Here’s A Close Up Of The LED Fixture’s Electrical Connection — Screws Into (old fixture) Just Like A Light Bulb.

SHOWN: LED Retro-Fit Recessed Can Light Fixture Screws In Light A Light Bulb (no wiring required)

Image Source: Amazon.com Embedded Link

Click On Image To; See Product, Read Details, or Purchase From Amazon.com (directly from this site).

 

Installing An LED Retro-Fit Light

NOTE: The existing recessed can remains in place.

  • Remove & discard the ceiling trim ring of the old fixture.
  • Caulk Any Open Gap Between Ceiling And Can Light.
  • The new fixture screws into the old fixture’s connection — just like a light bulb.
  • Then the new light is pushed into place (inside the old fixture).  The attached springs (shown in the photo below) — secure the LED light into place.
  • For an air-tight seal — add caulk as described below.

Adding Caulk

SHOWN: Add Caulk Along The Inside Edge — Where The Fixture Drops Downward Toward The Light Bulb

Image Source: Amazon.com Embedded Link

  • Apply the caulk along the inside edge of the new LED fixture — where the downward slope toward the bulb begins (see photo just above).
  • Avoid adding caulk at the outside edge of the new light fixture.
  • Note: If you ever need to remove the LED fixture: Caulk that’s applied along the outside edge — will remove the ceiling’s popcorn texture.
  • Push the LED fixture into place — and the caulk provides an air-tight seal.

End Of Section Only For Homes With Older (unsealed) Recessed Can Lights




Drywall Attic Hatch

attic hatch

Image Source: Shutterstock

Shown: Drywall Attic Hatch

Click Below To See A Thermal-Image Of (drywall) Attic Hatch Leaking Air (+ insulation is needed)

Thermal Image Of (drywall) Attic Hatch — During Summer

The Thermal-Image shows hot air (orange) leaking into the living space — Around the attic hatch.

Also, heat is radiating through the drywall itself (its color is orange too).  Note: The (insulated) ceiling around the hatch is purple / cool.

 

TIP-A:  For A Weather-Tight Seal: Install 1/4″ (thick) white foam weatherstrip along all 4 sides of the wood trim — that the drywall panel sits upon (when in place).

Image Source: Amazon.com Embedded Link

SHOWN:  1/4″ Wide White Foam Westherstripo.  Note: Many other sizes are available.

Click On Image To; View Product, Read Details, or Purchase from Amazon.com

 

TIP-B: For Substantially Increased Energy-Efficiency — Glue insulation to the (attic) side of the drywall panel.

Image Source: Amazon.com Embedded Link

SHOWN:  Double-Sided Radiant-Heat Barrier + R-24 Insulation.

Click On Image To; View Product, Read Details, or Purchase from Amazon.com

Shown: Double Radiant-Heat Barrier Thermal Insulation With R-24 Insulating Value.

TIP-C: (add + 2-3 more layers of insulation shown — for R-48 / R-72)

The Amazon Page Says: Reflects 99.97% of radiant heat + an R-Value of 24.  Prevents heat from escaping during cold seasons.  Doesn’t allow heat to enter during hot seasons.


Pull-Down Attic Stairs

Click Below To See Summer & Winter Thermal-Image Of (pull-down stairs) Attic Hatch Leaking Air (+ needs insulation added)

Thermal Image Of (pull-down stairs) Attic Hatch — During Winter

The Thermal-Image Shows COLD Air (blue) Leaking In Around the pull-down stairs.

-AND- Cold Air Radiating Through The (closed) Attic Laddar (indicates the need for insulation).

pull down attic stairs

Image Source: Shutterstock

Shown: Pull-Down Attic Stairs

Image Source: Amazon.com Embedded Link

SHOWN:  Specially Designed, Zippered Enclosure For Pull-Down Attic Stairs.   Fits most openings up to 25″ x 54″.

Click On Image To; View Product, Read Details, or Purchase from Amazon.com

TIP: This isn’t needed when pull-down stairs are located in the garage.

The Amazon Page Says:  

  • R-Value of 14.5.
  • Slows air transfer (leakage) from attic to home.
  • Simple one-person install.

TIP: For A Tighter Air Seal:  Add 1/4″ (thick) foam weatherstrip (not thicker – as it may interfere with proper closing of stairs) — to the wood edges that the stairs’ panel sits upon (when closed).

TIP: -OR- use similar products — like shown above for a drywall attic hatch.


Plumbing-Penetration Openings In Walls

  • See Below For a Huge Hole Where Plumbing Comes Through A Wall.

Image Source: YouTube Embedded Video Link

SHOWN: This hole in exterior wall drywall can leak as much air as an open window.

NOTE: This large hole may have been cut by a plumber to repair pipes.  Plumbers only repair the pipes.  Access holes must be repaired by someone else.

TIP: You can close holes with drywall — but there’s an easier way.  Foam-Core Poster Board can be glued over the hole — using caulk.   And, you have an airtight seal around the hole.  Use duct-tape to hold the poster board in place until the caulk dries.  After a couple of days, you can remove the duct-tape, or leave it in place.

 

Image Source: Amazon.com Embedded Link

SHOWN:  11 x 14″ Foam Core Poster Board.  Note: Many sizes are available.

Click On Image To; View Product, Read Details, or Purchase from Amazon.com

Image Source: Amazon.com Embedded Link

SHOWN:  3-Pack Dap Caulk.  TIP: Check prices before ordering on Amazon.

Click On Image To; View Product, Read Details, or Purchase from Amazon.com

TIP: You don’t have to use a Caulking-Gun to install small amounts of caulk.  Individual Tubes Are Available (and in assorted colors)

 

 TIP: A Plumbing Trim-Ring May Be Covering Gaps Around Pipes.  Pull Trim-rings Away From The Wall To Check For Gaps.

Image Source: YouTube Embedded Video Link

SHOWN: Gap around pipe covered with trim-ring.


Gaps Under Walls

Click On This Link To See Air Leaks Between Walls And Floor:  Air Leak Between Walls & Floor

  • Pre-2015 homes were not required to have air leaks sealed under walls.
  • In 2014 the U.S. Dept. Of Energy (DOE) reported “Wall to foundation (bottom of walls) and wall to roof (top of walls) — can be major contributors to air leakage.”
  • The 2015 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) Required Wallas To Be Sealed at the top and bottom.

 

  • A ½” inch gap between drywall and the sub-floor is required — to allow for natural expansion & contraction of drywall.
  • Most homes built before 2015 don’t have that gap sealed.
  • The video below shows how to caulk (before drywall is installed) — in a home being built.
  • In existing homes — caulk can be added below the wood Base Trim (there’s no need to remove the trim).

Image Source: YouTube Embedded Video

SHOWN: Click On Arrow In Center Of Image To View Video Showing Proper Drywall Sealing Techniques

TIP: The gap was covered with Base Trim after drywall is installed.  It’s not necessary to remove the Base Trim.  Apply caulk at gaps between hard-surface floor coverings and base trim.

In Areas With Hard-Surface Floors — Seal Between Base Trim & Floor Coverings

Image Source: YouTube Embedded Video

SHOWN: This YouTube Video Shows How To Caulk Under Base Trim — And Have A Professional-Looking Result

Click On Arrow In Center Of Image To View Video

 

In Areas With Carpet — Seal Under The Base Trim While Carpet Isn’t Present.

TIPS: 

  • Sometimes Base Trim was raised — so that it appears the same height in carpeted rooms as in hard-surface flooring rooms.
  • In every case — caulk the gap under the Base Trim.
  • The carpet must be pulled back to caulk the gap.
  • It’s likely best to wait until carpet is being replaced to add caulk.
  • If you’re having carpet replaced — the day before, you can pull it loose from the edges and caulk before new carpet is scheduled for installation.
  • Carpeted rooms have a “tack-strip” the carpet is attached to.
  • Tack-strips have thousands of sharp, upward tacks.
  • You’ll need a caulking-gun to caulk behind “tack-strip” (to protect your fingers).

TIP: Don’t remove the tack-strips if new carpet is being installed.

Shown: Carpet Tack Strip

Image Source: Amazon.com Embedded Link

Image Source: Amazon.com Embedded Link

SHOWN:  Inexpensive Caulking Gun

Click On Image To; View Product, Read Details, or Purchase from Amazon.com

 

Image Source: Amazon.com Embedded Link

SHOWN:  Inexpensive Caulk  NOTE: The Long Tip & Caulking Gun Keeps Fingers Away From Tack Strips.

Click On Image To; View Product, Read Details, or Purchase from Amazon.com

 

TIP:  If The Carpet Has Wrinkles — it needs to be re-stretched.  If having carpet restretched — you can pull it loose from the edges and caulk before it’s restretched.

Click Here To See Carpet That Needs To Be Restretched:  Carpet Needing To Be Restretched

TIP: Some carpet installers will restretch carpet — many won’t.  Before pulling carpet loose — be sure you have a contractor who’s agreed to restretch it.


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75+ Ways To Lower Cooling Expenses – Part 3

Without Replacing Your HVAC System

(Most Of These Ways Also Lower Heating Bills)

This Is Part 2 — Click Here To Read Part 2:  AlsPlumbing.com Lower Cooling Bills 50+ Ways – Part 1.

This was Part-3 Of Our Article About How To Lower Cooling Expense Without Replacing Your HVAC System.   This part is focused on; outdoor air leaking into the home, homeowner actions that contribute to air leakage, testing a home for air leakage, and attic & wall insulation levels in Texas homes over the years. 

75+ Ways To Lower Cooling Bills

Without Replacing Your HVAC System

-AND- Most Ways Also Lower Heating Costs

This was Part-3 Of Our Multi-Part Article That Details 75+ Ways To Lower Cooling Costs Without Replacing Your HVAC System.   Al’s Plumbing, in Plano, Texas provides full-service plumbing; maintenance, repairs, and replacements for every plumbing component in your home.

We sell and install gas and electric water heaters.  Al’s is near your home in; Plano, TX; Allen, TX; Frisco, TX; and McKinney, Texas.  We service all homes in southern Collin County, TX, and northeastern Dallas County, TX with no additional travel charges.

Call Al’s Today To Discuss Any Concerns Or Problems You Have With Your Home’s Plumbing. 

We will arrange an appointment at your convenience.

This Is Part 3 Of Our Article:  Click Here To Read Part 2: AlsPlumbing.com 50 Ways to Lower Cooling Costs Part-2