Introduction: Give a Draft the Shaft: Where to Check Your Home for Heat Loss
In 1993, heating (not including the use of water heaters) accounted for 53.1 percent of total energy consumption in U.S. homes. By 2009, heating accounted for 41.5 percent of total energy consumption. The decrease in spending can be attributed to several factors, including better insulation, advances in window efficiency and people moving to warmer areas. Having a warmer room doesn’t necessarily mean spending more on energy use.
Follow this easy checklist to inspect the most common ways that your home could be loosing heat. Start contributing to this downward trend of spending less to keep your home warm today!
Source: Cure For The Common Cold Room
Step 1: Up the Chimney
More than half a room’s heat can disappear up the chimney if the flue is left open, and much of the heat from a wood fire goes that way, too. That’s right — your wood-burning fireplace, which you use to stay warm, is ultimately making your room colder.
You don’t have to live with that. Close the flue — block it off completely so you get no leaks — and replace it with a vent-free gas fireplace or electric fireplace insert. They might not produce as much heat as a roaring wood fire, but the heat they produce won’t be lost up the chimney.
Consider what else an electric fireplace will save you besides the cost of firewood:
- the hassle of finding firewood and getting it pulled up by the house; the time and
- exertion of chopping your own wood, if you do that sort of thing; and the extra
- safety of eliminating a pile of dry, flammable wood right next to your home.
Step 2: Under-insulated Attics
Trying to heat a cold house with a poorly insulated attic is rather like going out in the cold without a hat on: All that heat escapes out the top. You might think of your home’s roof as its hat, but the insulation is what really holds the heat down.
So how much insulation is enough? Take a flashlight up into your attic space and look around. In a well-insulated attic, according to ENERGY STAR, the insulation should rise above the top of the floor joists. So if the insulation on the “floor” of the attic is level with or below the top of the floor joists, you need more. Make sure you check along the edges, too, because you might find some low spots in the insulation that need reinforcement.
The people at your local hardware store can help you find the best insulation for your area, but keep in mind that your supplemental insulation does not have to be the same as the insulation already laid down.
Step 3: Electrical Outlets on Exterior Walls
The electrical outlet sits in a hole in the wall that is larger than the plugs; any space around the outlet that isn’t insulated is an exit for warm air.
To check for a leak, light up an incense stick. When you have a nice vertical streak of aromatic smoke from the incense, move the stick slowly near the edges of windows, doors, electrical outlets and any other places you suspect cold air is creeping in and watch the smoke. An air leak will disrupt the incense smoke, so remember: If the smoke doesn’t streak, you’ve found a leak.
Step 4: Dryer Vent
When the dryer is running, all that hot air blows right out of the house, but you could still be losing heat even when the dryer is turned off.
Step 5: Outdoor Spigot
Anywhere a hole has been drilled through the exterior of your house is a potential air leak.
Step 6: Attic Hatch
The pull-down panel that holds the steps to the attic is the largest part of your attic that isn’t covered in insulation, which means heat is escaping through it.
Step 7: Recessed Lighting
The enclosures for recessed ceiling lights probably stick up above the insulation in your attic, which means they act as holes in your home’s most important thermal barrier.
Step 8: Bathroom Fan Vents
They’re great for venting the steam from a hot shower, but if your bathroom fan vent isn’t properly sealed (or if it’s left on), it can suck the heat right out of the house.