The use of today's high-performance caulks and sealants not only cuts fuel bills, but also can prevent water damage, ward off insects and actually prolong a house's life.

Modern chemical sealants have adhesive qualities far superior to those of the past. They will flex with temperature changes and provide a strong seal for years.Homeowners should remember that energy leaks out and water leaks in wherever there's a break in the house's structure.

Some areas to check are where electrical or utility lines or vents lead into the home, between the house and foundation, around basement windows and exterior electrical receptacles.

The spaces where eaves meet the house and around dormers should be airtight or a lot of heat will escape through these natural vents.

Houses with siding should have any break in the siding sealed completely, not just around windows and doors, but where entrance ways meet the house, where decorative fixtures or lights are attached, and especially wherever the siding forms a corner.

Many homeowners also forget that caulk should be applied where patios or porches meet the house or where concrete steps meet a wooden porch. Here sealants can deter insects and prevent water leaks from damaging wood or stone structures.

Inside, the homeowner often thinks of caulking around his tub or shower, which certainly is important to prevent water leaks into the floor. But any place sealed on the outside should also be sealed on the inside. This includes woodwork around windows and exterior doors, and all inside entry points for utility lines and vents.