When you’re trying to determine where heat is escaping in your home, it helps to start with a comprehensive checklist. Whether it’s the middle of winter or the hottest month of summer, there is no doubt that energy is moving through the cracks and crevices of your home. It even moves through your walls, doors and windows. If you’ve never had a home energy efficiency “audit,” now is a great time to consider it. Before you go out and get new windows and doors, it helps to know where you are currently leaking heat. It could be that the insulation near a window needs to be upgraded, or the weather-stripping near a door should be replaced. So how does one find the spots where their home is losing heat?
It helps to narrow down the possible spaces where a home could lose energy. Dependable Construction view’s these five places where energy lose normally occurs:
- Floors and below grade spaces
- Doors and windows
- Air leakage (infiltration)
Now remember these areas are not all the same in terms of energy leakage. Heat loss due to infiltration is far more significant than what is lost through walls and ceilings. In order to understand their relative importance, it helps to look at energy loss in this order:
- Infiltration / Air Leakage: 12%
- Windows and Doors: 21%
- Floors and Below Grade Space: 8%
- Walls: 33%
- Ceilings: 26%
One might guess that the best way to prepare for winter is by purchasing insulation. While certainly not a bad idea, it’s not always the best investment. Reducing air leaks around certain openings is a more direct way to stem the flow of energy loss.
Where are air leaks occurring in your home?
Believe it or not, the biggest culprits for air leakage/infiltration may be places you never thought about before. Air can leak out through plumbing vents, switches, electrical outlets, recessed lighting fixtures exposed to the attic; vertical plumbing stacks open to the basement, attic stairs, or any other opening that is exposed to the coolest parts of the home. Through these openings, heated air can be drawn out of the home and escapes through the roof.
What is the bottom line for fixing infiltration leakage?
Focus on insulating the largest openings first. This may require purchasing new windows or doors. While certainly more costly than simple insulation or weather-stripping, they will provide the most bang for the buck long term for energy efficiency. After windows and doors have been addressed, consider insulating your attic. Although more heat is lost through the walls than the attic, it is a lot less expensive.