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Air leaks can waste a lot of energy dollars, letting hot air inside during warmer months and allowing drafts during the cooler season.

Sealing all those cracks and large openings to the outside is one of the quickest energy and money-saving tasks, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. 

First, gather the materials you will need for the project, including:

  • Caulk and caulk gun.  Most caulking compounds come in disposable cartridges.  Consider that you will probably need a half-cartridge per window or door. 
  • Putty knife or large screwdriver.  A tool for scraping will help you remove old caulking before applying new sealant. 
  • Paper towels or a rag.  Keep a damp cleaning cloth available to wipe up any stray caulk. 

When you are ready to begin, follow these step-by-step instructions from the Department of Energy.

  1. Clean all areas that you plan to caulk.  Remove any old caulk and paint.  Make sure the area is dry so you won't seal in any moisture.
  2. Prepare the caulking gun.  Cut the tip of the cartridge of caulk at a 45-degree angle and insert the tube in the gun.  If you have never used a caulk gun, do a test run by applying a line onto a newspaper or paper towel so you have a good sense of what to expect before trying your hand on a door or window.
  3. Hold the caulking gun at a 45-degree angle to the edge that is to be filled.  Slide the tube nozzle along the joint while pulling the trigger of the caulk gun to apply the material.  You will know you have got the right angle when the caulk is immediately forced into the crack as it comes out of the tube.  Try to avoid stops and starts. 
  4. "Tool" the caulk by pushing it into the crack.  Once you have covered 2-3 feet of the surface with a bead of caulk, dampen your finger (or spoon, piece of wood or foam paintbrush) and glide over the bead, pushing the caulk into the crack.
  5. Clean up any mistakes or excess caulk with a damp paper towel or rag.  Take care of any problem areas right away.
  6. Allow the caulk to dry according to the directions on the package.  It usually takes about 24 hours for the caulk to fully cure.