Smart moves for a warmer home

You can check air leaks yourself

If money is tight, skip the audit and check for energy-wasting air leaks yourself.

You probably know that air can leak around windows, doors and outside walls. But the Department of Energy says the following also are major sources of air leakage:

Dropped ceilings; kitchen soffits; ductwork and wall openings for plumbing; attic access points; recessed lights; holes in mechanical room closets; wire entry points at the top of walls; attic walls, called knee walls, that support rafters; around the bathtub drain; around plumbing and wiring entry points through the floor; band joists of two-story homes; and exterior walls.

If you can see light coming through any of these places, you have an obvious leak.

To detect subtle leaks, close all windows and doors and turn off all fans and the furnace. Light a stick of incense, hold it in front of potential leaks, and see if the smoke changes direction. If it does, air is being blown into or sucked out of your home, and you have a leak. A damp hand will also help you detect drafts.