American Chemistry MattersA Blog of the American Chemistry Council

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Filling in the cracks can save homeowners billions of dollars in energy costs

As temperatures continue to drop and home heating bills around the country make their perennial rise, Americans that have weatherized their homes won’t be allowing as much heat (or money) to escape through the cracks.

“Air sealing is one of the most cost-effective energy savings opportunities,” says Paul Francisco, a research engineer at the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.

According to a Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory study recently published in Energy and Buildings journal, sealing those pesky cracks could lead to tens of billions in savings — that is, if all homeowners stepped up to the challenge.

There are 113 million homes in the U.S. that consume 23 percent of our energy production, with about half of that energy used for heating and cooling, according to one E&E article.

The Berkeley Lab researchers found that sealing homes in accordance with the International Energy Conservation Code would save homeowners $35 billion and significantly reduce source energy demand

With better insulation and reduced air infiltration, which accounts for 25-40 percent of the energy used for heating and cooling an average home, homeowners can significantly cut down on their energy costs. Windows alone typically account for 15 to 30 percent of a building’s total heating bill, and often more than 30 percent of cooling costs, for example.

Many of the energy-saving materials and technologies that can make homes better rely on the innovations of chemistry. Products such as rigid foam insulation, building wrap, Low-e glass and window film, and spray polyurethane foam greatly enhance the energy efficiency of homes and contribute to substantial energy savings.

An ACC study found that chemistry in energy-saving products and technologies helps save up to 10.9 quadrillion Btus of energy annually, enough to power, heat and cool up to 56 million households or run up to 135 million vehicles each year. In addition, a McKinsey & Company study found that for every unit of CO2 emitted in the manufacturing of the products of chemistry, two units of CO2 are saved through the energy savings enabled by those products.

Increasing U.S. energy savings and more effectively competing with the rest of the world means that policymakers must maximize the contributions of chemistry and energy efficiency to our nation’s energy portfolio. Learn more at

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