Energy tip #11: fixing a hole where the draft gets in

weatherstripping.gifSaturday Night Live’s Jack Handy once offered the following Deep Thought: “Blow ye winds like the trumpet blows…but without that noise.” In the home, there are plenty of silent winds that blow. Unfortunately, they are the type that inflate your energy bill by sneaking in through small gaps between window and door seals. As we head into the colder seasons, a do-it-yourself audit of all the seals in your home could pay big dividends.

One way to do this is to take a lit incense stick and slowly move it past suspected draft areas. Any subtle breezes should be easy to detect. Then brush off your home improvement books or use some simple solutions provided by the DIY Network’s home energy page. Weatherstripping can be accomplished in many ways and needn’t be particularly difficult.

Estimates put potential savings at a whopping 10% of energy costs and many older homes can benefit even more from some minor improvements.

Let’s runs the sums:

Average yearly home energy bill: $1,900
Cost of caulking and weatherstripping: $50
10% energy savings: $190
Total yearly savings: $140
Total CO2 savings: 2,800 lbs. CO2

So, there you have it. Fill in the gaps and you’ll be saving saving a nice stash for some premium warm cocoa or a hot-off-the-presses Home TerraPass.

Last week we had our most popular tip to date, with 145 people pledging to unplug their rechargers and other electronic appliances (Tip #11) for two weeks. If we can keep it up for a year, we’ll be saving about 176,465 pounds of CO2 or roughly 9,117 gallons of gas. Pretty darn impressive.

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  1. Peter Kuria - October 8, 2006

    I really appreciate the dialogue here, very enlightening. My only concern is that while it is prudent to do all that is possible to cut or maintain “zero carbon”, the emissions from our vehicles are very minimal compared to the emissions that go towards the manufacture of those vehicles. In this regard, while we can struggle to be carbon neutral, we are already at a deficit before we even start driving. The model should therefore include “erasing” the ecological footprint that comes with a “new vehicle” off the factory.

  2. Adam Stein - October 9, 2006

    Hi Peter —
    Energy use from the manufacturing of vehicles represent only about 10% of the emissions over the vehicle’s lifetime. In other words, driving a car has a much bigger impact than buying a car.
    That said, you’re correct that that you start at a deficit as soon as you buy a car (or any product, really). Buying a used car is one way to lessen this impact. And, of course, you can always offset the purchase with a TerraPass.
    – Adam

  3. Peter Kuria - October 22, 2006

    Hi Adam,
    I am really interested in the automobile manufacture energy chain- from end to end-
    – steel rolling
    – leather/upholstery
    – all the tiny bits-
    This to me gives a bigger picture of the issues we are dealing with. If you have any pointer in this direction I woudl really appreciate that.
    Adam, do we give people a sense of “false sense of security and of being responsible” by assuming that financial tokens are what we need to deal with global warming? My point is, wealthy people will find the money to pay for their polluting habits, but they are not the ones who will be suffering in the short term!

  4. Adam Stein - October 23, 2006

    Peter —
    I’m sorry to say that I can’t find a good online reference for the 10% figure. This is a frequently referenced number, but it’s important to remember that it is at best a rough average.
    Our experience at TerraPass has been that people who purchase carbon offsets view the offsets as just one part of a total strategy that includes reductions in energy use. The wealthy have always been better able to afford the effects of environmental degradation. Offsets simply give us all one more tool to help reduce the damage.

  5. Peter Kuria - October 25, 2006

    Thanks and appreciate your time and the work that you are undertaking.
    I will be putting your link to our site htt:// and (our organisation is based in Finland and works with partners to conserve biodiversity and culture in the Global South, specifically in Kenya). Which brings me to the nexy question.
    Do you by any chance have offset projects in collaboration with any Global South partners or are you planning to have any in the near future?
    Keep up with the great work!

  6. Adam Stein - October 25, 2006

    Hi Peter,
    Presently all of our projects are based in the U.S., because that’s where we generate the bulk of our sales. We do expect this situation to change eventually, and we will almost certainly be looking at projects in Africa at some point.
    – Adam