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Home > Projects & DIY Toolkit > How to Tighten Up Your Home

How to Tighten Up Your Home

Save Energy, Save Money

Your house needs to keep you warm in the winter, cool in the summer, dry when it rains and comfortable all year round. That's a big job. ENERGY STAR® recommends sealing and insulating to help increase the comfort and energy efficiency of your home by improving the "envelope" - the outer walls, ceiling, windows, and floors.



You can save thousands of dollars by caulking, weatherstripping and sealing up air gaps in your attic.

A simple tube of caulk will make your house more weather-tight and longer lasting. Caulk is good for sealing holes one-quater-inch or less. When the caulk around windows, doors and siding has become brittle or has separated, it's time to scrape out the old and squeeze in the new.

Caulk Caulk Gun

Rolling up your sleeves:

  • As a general rule of thumb, you'll use one-half tube of caulk per door and large window; one-quarter tube for smaller windows.
  • Use indoor/outdoor caulk with long lifetime around windows and doors to seal small gaps and air leaks.
  • If joints are wider than one-quarter-inch, fill the gap with foam backer rod, available at Lowe's. It comes in a variety of thicknesses to accommodate different size gaps.
  • Don't caulk the horizontal joints of lap siding; your house needs to breathe, so trapped moisture can escape.
  • For latex caulk, a moist finger makes the best caulk-smoothing tool of all. It's easy to control and you'll never lose it.
  • Use sheet metal and high-temperature caulk to close gaps around chimneys and flues that can get hot.

For most projects you'll need only two types of caulk. Acrylic or acrylic-latex is a good all-purpose caulk. It's paintable, goes on easily and cleans up with water. Polyurethane and silicone caulk are stickier and trickier to use, but are the best choice for use on concrete, stucco and masonry surfaces. Cleanup requires mineral spirits.


For weatherstripping to do its job, it has to compress to fill the gap between two surfaces. Eventually, even the best material, whether its foam, rubber or metal will lose it's resiliency, allowing air to escape your home. Before you go shopping for new weatherstripping, make note of existing product and try to match it as closely as possible.

Rolling up your sleeves:

  • Before replacing your door's weatherstripping, check the screws in the door hinges to make sure drafts aren't being caused by the door sagging and creating gaps.
  • Whether you use nail-on or self-adhering products, your weatherstripping will adhere and perform better if you clean the frame and jamb first with soap and water, then allow it to dry completely.
  • To prevent air infiltration, caulk the back of nail-on weatherstripping before tacking it in place.
  • Weatherstripping kits containing two side strips, one top strip and fasteners are available at Lowe's.

Seal Air Leaks


If you added up all the gaps around the pipes, light fixtures, chimneys and other penetrations in the ceiling of the average home, you'd have the equivalent of a two-square-foot hole the size of a small window. Since heat rises, you'll find that sealing up these attic bypasses is often the very best way to save on your energy bills. It usually takes a combination of caulk, expanding foam, insulation, and flashing to do the job right, but this investment of time and money can save hunreds of dollars on your energy bill. And since your house will feel less drafty, you'll feel more comfortable too.

Rolling up your sleeves:

  • To track down attic air leaks, lift existing insulation and check for dark patches of moisture or dust. Or head to the attic on a cold day and use a stick of incense to check for drafts
  • Use expanding foam sealant to plug air gaps around pipes, ducts and wires where they enter the attic
  • Don't forget your attic access hatch. Glue rigid foam insulation to the top of the hatch and use foam weatherstripping to seal any gaps around it.


Rolling up your sleeves:

  • Fill wall and ceiling cavities completely. Leaving even small gaps or compressing fibreglass batts during insulation can cut the efficiency of insulation in half.
  • When insulating exterior walls, split the insulation so half goes on each side of any wires or cables.
  • Use a putty knife to lightly pack strips of insulation between window frames and wall studs when possible.
  • When insulating attics, make certain not to block eave or ridge vents.


Installing new energy-efficient windows and doors is expensive, but there are many benefits. Most new units require less maintenance. Better-insulated glass will cut down on outside noise. And studies show, there's a relatively high payback to reselling your home. Whether you're remodelling, adding on or simply replacing worn-out windows and doors, choosing high-efficiency ENERGY STAR® qualified models is a good investment.


There are other options besides complete replacement. You can:

  • Install storm doors and windows. They'll not only warm up your home, but improve the appearance while cutting down on maintenance.
  • Install replacement windows. With these, you leave the frame and trim in place and install a more energy-efficient insert. Once the tools and materials are on hand, the project can take as little as an hour or two for experienced do-it-yourselfers.
  • Install window film. There are two types: One is applied directly to the glass and is helpful in keeping excess heat out in the summer. The second is a clear film stretched over the interior trim that is effective at blocking cold drafts in the winter. Both are available at Lowe's.

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These How-Tos are provided as a service from Lowe's, the Original Home Improvement Warehouse of How-To information for the World Wide Web. The information in Lowe's "How-To" clinics is intended to simplify jobs around the house. Tools, products, materials, techniques, building codes and local regulations change; therefore, Lowe's assumes no liability for omissions, errors or the outcome of any project. The reader must always exercise reasonable caution, follow current codes and regulations that may apply, and is urged to consult with a licensed professional if in doubt about any procedures. Please visit our terms of use which governs your use of these How-Tos.

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