Weatherizing a building to stop leaks and drafts can be easily overlooked, but adding or replacing weather stripping is the easiest and most cost effective way to cut your energy bill.
The average home has enough cracks and openings, that when combined, equate to a two-foot-square hole. Leaving them unsealed is equivalent to leaving a window open year round, allowing air to flow freely in and out.
What is it?
Weatherization is the act of addressing leaks and drafts within a building to increase energy efficiency. This is done by preventing unwanted flows of warm or cool air from the interior to the exterior of a building and vice versa. This can be done easily and with little cost by adding or replacing weather strips and air sealant along doors, windows, and structural seams. Keeping wanted energy inside and unwanted energy outside is the key principle of weatherization.
Proper weatherization in a building can provide a wide range of important benefits. Weatherization can improve occupant’s thermal comfort, improve indoor air quality, reduce heating and cooling bills, ensure structural durability, and of course minimize environmental impacts. Preventing leaks and drafts ensures that all energy generated within a building (whether for heating or cooling) is contained and used appropriately, while all outside energy is effectively used or kept out, thus preventing waste and saving money.
There are a number of techniques that can be applied to properly weatherize a building. As mentioned, weather stripping and air sealing doors, windows, and seams is the cheapest and easiest way to reduce you energy bill and increase efficiency. Weather-stripping is the process of using specified materials to seal openings along operable doors and windows to prevent the entry of unwanted water and air and ensure an air tight building envelope. Air sealing can also be achieved with caulk and is generally used for cracks and openings between stationary building components such as around door and window frames.
Along with weather-stripping, other measures for the weatherization of doors can be achieved through simple improvements such as door sweeps, storm doors, and striker plate adjustments. Windows also have unique weatherization improvements that can increase energy efficiency such as choosing windows with additional panes that add extra air layers for more insulation, as well as adding exterior shutters, awnings, and interior blinds to provide some insulation against summer heat gain. It is important to note that proper weatherization and air sealing does not eliminate the need for proper building insulation.
How can we help?
The Municipal Climate Change Action Centre (MCCAC) offers the TAME+ program which provides tools and funding to help municipalities understand how energy is used in their buildings, identify key savings opportunities through audits, and implement retrofit projects. The results of the TAME+ energy audit will provide a number of energy conserving measures that can be taken to increase efficiency in a particular building. Building envelope upgrades and retrofits including weatherization are eligible as energy conservation measures under TAME+ and can therefore be covered by the rebate.
The MCCAC also offers Energy Efficiency Toolboxes to municipalities. These toolboxes contain a variety of useful equipment for detecting leaks and areas of improvement in building envelopes. Municipalities are encouraged to borrow an Energy Efficiency Toolbox and get a firsthand look at where their buildings may be energy inefficient.