There is nothing like a drafty home to make your winter energy bills skyrocket. A drafty home is a cold home, and a cold home requires excessive heating to maintain a warm and comfortable temperature. This is not only costly, but it also increases our carbon footprint. Fortunately, there are a few measures that we can take to help protect our homes against air leaks and energy loss.
Identify Air Leaks
The first step to protecting your home against air leaks and energy loss is to identify any leaks present in your home. Common areas where air leaks can occur are around windows, doors, electrical outlets, light switches, and around the chimney. The easiest way to locate leaks is to hold a lit incense stick or candle around the suspected area. If the flame moves sideways or flickers, it is an indication that a draft is present.
After identifying leaks, the next step is to seal them. Weatherstripping is the most common material used to seal gaps in windows and doors. Electrical outlets and light switch plates can be sealed using foam gaskets or caulking. Chimneys can be sealed using a chimney cap. For larger gaps or holes, expanding foam insulation can be used to seal the opening.
Insulate Your Attic
The attic is a prime location for heat loss due to poor insulation. Installing the proper amount of insulation in your attic can significantly reduce energy loss and lower your energy bills. The recommended R-value (or insulation level) for attic insulation is R-38, which translates to approximately 10-14 inches of insulation if using fiberglass batts.
Upgrade Your Windows
Old and single-pane windows are notorious for leaking air and increasing energy costs. Consider upgrading to energy-efficient windows with double or triple panes. Properly installed energy-efficient windows also help to reduce outside noise and can increase the value of your home.
Install Door Sweeps
Door sweeps are an effective way to seal the gap between the bottom of the door and the threshold. Door sweeps can be made of rubber, vinyl, or aluminum. They simply need to be cut to size and attached to the bottom of the door using screws or adhesive.
Use Thick Curtains
Thick curtains can help to insulate your windows and reduce heat loss. Look for curtains with thermal lining to help keep heat inside your home. Curtains should be hung as close to the window as possible and should extend beyond the window frame to cover any gaps.
While it is necessary to have proper ventilation within your home, excessive ventilation can lead to significant energy loss. Make sure any vents and fans are closed when not in use. Use ventilation fans only when necessary, and ensure they are venting properly to the outside of the home.
Keep Heating Equipment Maintained
Heating equipment should be maintained annually to ensure it is functioning at its most efficient level. Clean air filters regularly to keep air flowing freely. Hire a professional to inspect and repair any leaks in your heating system. Even a small leak can lead to significant energy loss.
Taking measures to protect your home against air leaks and energy loss not only reduces your energy bills, but it also minimizes your carbon footprint. Identify and seal leaks, insulate your attic, upgrade your windows, install door sweeps, use thick curtains, control ventilation, and keep heating equipment well maintained. These steps can help to keep your home cozy and warm without costing you an arm and a leg.