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Air Leakage

While installing new locks and adding cameras to exterior doors can reduce the chance of an  unwanted person entering your home, they add little security against another uninvited intruder: air leakage. When conditioned air exits a home through small cracks and gaps, it is referred to as exfiltration. The opposite, infiltration, occurs when undesired outside air finds its way in. The Department of Energy estimates that 11% of the average American home’s air leakage occurs around or through exterior doors.

While one reason to be concerned about air leakage is energy loss, others include reducing discomfort from drafts, mitigating indoor pollen and dust, diminishing outdoor noise, and eliminating insect and rodent access. Obviously, if a noticeable draft can be felt or if daylight can be seen between the door and frame, there is reason for concern. However, even without these indicators, air leakage could be a major issue. Fortunately, there are a number of measures that can be taken to alleviate leaky entries.

Start by identifying where the leaks are. If a door sticks while opening or closing, check the frame’s alignment with a carpenter’s square and level. If the frame is twisted during installation or due to the house settling over time, it will have to be corrected before proceeding. Then, check to ensure:

If any of these issues exist, repair as necessary.


Check the condition of weatherstripping for a tight fit. One way to do so is to shut the door on a dollar bill. If it can be easily pulled through, air leakage can occur. While damaged or worn out weatherstripping is a problem, note that using too much weatherstripping can cause the door to not seal entirely.

The bottoms of exterior doors require a durable sealant that can withstand regular opening and closing. The following options can be installed on their own or together depending on needs:

Door sweep – A door sweep attaches to the bottom of the door. The rubber gasket seals the space between the bottom of the door and the threshold, keeping warm or cool air inside the home and outside air where it belongs.

Door shoe – With a door shoe, the rubber gasket is on the bottom edge of the door. It is designed to fit snugly against the threshold of an external door.

Door threshold – Finally, special metal thresholds with rubber gaskets can seal the door from the bottom up. The seal withstands foot traffic better than weather stripping, and it can be effectively paired with a door shoe to seal a large gap on the lower portion of the door.

Your local electric utility has information on additional ways to improve your home’s energy efficiency while maintaining a healthy and comfortable indoor climate. In partnership with your local public power utility, they offer incentives to reduce the cost for many of these improvements. For additional ways you can become more EnergyWiseSM, visit with your local public power utility.

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