MN Energy Smart

Find and Fix Hidden Energy Thieves

Heat leaks bleed money and comfort from your workplace.

Many commercial buildings have dozens of hidden cracks where heat escapes. Finding and sealing them is one of the fastest ways to cut your energy bill, and they cost next to nothing to repair—often just some caulk and weather stripping.

Here are some how-to pointers for tracking down and arresting these pesky energy thieves.

  1. Define the boundary of the heated area. Decide which areas of your building will be heated, and which will not. Next, imagine drawing one continuous border around the heated area. This is known as the “heated box.” Be sure plumbing pipes are included inside your heated box so they won’t freeze.
  2. Seal cracks, gaps, and openings at the boundary of the heated box to stop air from escaping (that’s air you’ve already paid to heat or cool!). Working from the indoor side wherever possible provides a better barrier against moisture.
  3. Insulate or reinsulate on the outside of the boundary of the heated box.

Common Building Heat Leaks

Inspect your building at the boundary of the heated box to look for these common heat leaks. Fill the openings with caulk, expanding foam, insulation or void filler. Tip: If you’re running a space heater, you probably have a heat leak in that area.

Upper boundary of the heated box

  • Weatherstrip and insulate around roof access panels and kneewalls
  • Fill gaps around chases and chimneys
  • Seal plumbing and wiring holes at the ceiling

Main floor, the sides of the heated box

  • Weatherstrip and install doorsweeps on outside doors, including doors to unheated garage or storage areas
  • Caulk around window moldings
  • Install foam gaskets in electrical outlets on exterior walls
  • Caulk around drain pipes

Basement—the lower-level sides of the heated box

  • Seal foundation cracks with cement caulk
  • Seal plumbing and wiring holes in basement walls
  • Caulk around basement window moldings
  • Insulate rim joists by cutting rigid foam insulation to fit snugly in the openings between joists
  • Seal and insulate around access doors or panels to unheated spaces

You’ll be amazed at the increased comfort and savings you’ll enjoy year round by investing some time to seal heat leaks!

If you have questions or are considering additional steps to cut energy use at your facility, please contact Energy Smart by calling (651) 292-3902 or We’re here to help!


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