Edited by N.R. Mallery
During winter months, heating costs make up the bulk of your fuel bills.
Thus it makes sense for your heating system to work as efficiently and as effortlessly as possible, and you can enjoy the warmth it produces without the worry about how rapidly the dial on your energy meter is spinning.
Unfortunately, wintertime heat loss is a common source of waste in most homes. Even well-constructed buildings are far from airtight, and it is amazing how much heat can escape into the open air if sources of leakage are not tended to.
Your bills may seem out-of-proportion in comparison to friends’ and neighbors’. Do you notice your furnace kicking on and off more frequently? Are there rooms in your home that seem noticeably colder than others?
All of these indicate you probably have a heat loss problem significant enough to have a measurable impact.
Identifying the Sources of Heat Loss Trouble
Air leaks in homes can happen just about anywhere. The best way to detect them is to find a professional to do a free heat-loss audit. Some utilities offer this service for free. You can always hire a private home energy auditor. In Vermont, you can find useful information from Efficiency Vermont at www.efficiencyvermont.com or (888) 921-5990.
In the meantime, look around on your own home to check:
Doors and Windows
Cracks and spaces here are fairly easy to find. Just feel around the perimeter of your doors and windows and see if cool air is coming in. Some repairs to door and windows can be done by the average person. It is often fairly easy to fix door and window gaps with caulk or weather stripping that you can buy and apply yourself.
Other locations where gaps may be causing air leakage include electrical outlets, plumbing cuts beneath sinks, or anywhere, and dryer exhaust vents. All can be plugged with caulk or foam sealers.
Filters and Vents
HVAC units will not move air properly if filters are clogged or vents plugged or blocked. It is fairly easy to clean or replace air filters.
Attic Heat Loss
This can be traced to unsealed wall partitions and penetrations from electrical lines and plumbing vent stacks that channel heat from below or even poor attic ventilation. AFTER that, insulation should be considered – it’s almost always good to increase it.
For the most part you won’t be able to tell if the insulation in your walls, floors and ceilings is adequate or has somehow been compromised. Bad insulation is a big source of heat loss, however, and it is one problem a home heat loss audit can help you uncover.
Heat Loss Is Your Loss! Heat loss will make you colder, cost you money and put undue stress on your furnace to the point where its life span may be reduced. It is time to do something about it now.
This article was revised with permission from Bruce’s HVAC Tips Blog. Learn more at http://bit.ly/heat-loss-problem.