Small Business Energy Savings | March 21, 2017

Energy Hacks to Stop Air Leaks in the Office

Having an energy-efficient office or place of business goes beyond making sure your lights and other unnecessary equipment are turned off while your company is closed.

It can also mean making sure your building doesn’t have any air leaks allowing dollars to escape with your heating or air conditioning.

According to Constellation, the average house has enough air leaks to add up to a two-foot square hole. That is the equivalent of leaving a medium-sized window open 24 hours a day.

How much could this be costing your business? This video explains more:

Though it might pay, in the long run, to hire someone to perform a detailed energy audit of your building, below are some simple things Constellation and the U.S. Department of Energy suggest you can do to spot air leaks.

How to Stop Air Leaks

Perform a Visual Inspection

On the outside of the building are areas where different building materials converge. If you have exterior brick connected to a cement foundation, exterior corners, outdoor faucets or other places that are touching but not solid, air might be escaping or entering through a gap or crack.

Check for Cracks or Gaps

Inside the building, top spots to check include electrical outlets, switch plates, door and window frames, electrical and gas service entrances, baseboards, cable TV and phone lines, wall- or window-mounted air conditioners and recessed lighting.

Use the Flashlight Method

Once you’ve found gaps, ask someone to shine a flashlight through the gaps from indoors when it’s dark outside. Stand outside and watch for rays of light seeping through. This should reveal where the cracks are.

Look for Dirty Spots

Look at your ceiling paint and carpet, which may indicate air leaks at interior wall/ceiling joints and wall/floor joists.

Shut a Door or Window on a Dollar Bill

If you can easily pull the dollar bill out, you’ve likely got a window air leak that needs to be addressed.

Hold a Piece of Paper in Areas Where You Suspect a Leak

The paper will move if you’ve got air coming in around an electrical outlet or window frame.

If you do find any leaks, the Department of Energy has some tips on how to plug them:

  • Caulk and weatherstrip doors and windows that leak air.
  • Caulk and seal air leaks where plumbing, ducting or electrical wiring comes through walls, floors, ceilings and soffits over cabinets.
  • Caulk any leaks around wall/ceiling joints and wall/floor joists.
  • Install foam gaskets behind outlet and switch plates on walls.
  • Cover single-pane windows with storm windows or replace them with more efficient double-pane low- emissivity windows.
  • Use foam sealant on larger gaps around windows, baseboards and other places where air may leak out.
  • Replace door bottoms and thresholds with ones that have pliable sealing gaskets.

If your leaking air issues are more severe or mysterious, you may want to have an energy audit performed by a certified auditor.

The auditor should be certified to thoroughly examine your building, looking for leaks and other potential issues. An assessment of what’s going on and ways you can remediate any problems should be provided. An audit can run between $300 and $500, according to the Department of Energy, and should take about four hours.

Assessments often include a blower door test or a thermographic scan. A blower door scan uncovers air leaks by using a special fan that depressurizes the building. A thermographic scan measures surface temperatures using infrared video and still cameras.

 

Article written for blogs.constellation.com by Small Business Trends
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