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Where to Improve Your Home's Energy Efficiency

5 Ways Your Home Loses Heat


Where to Improve Your Home's Energy Efficiency

Infrared photo of home heat loss (blue areas are cool, red areas are warm)

Whether it's summer or winter, energy moves through the walls, roof and cracks of your home. Either cool air conditioned air is lost to the outside during the summer or cold winter air is finding its way into your home during the winter.

Where does a home lose heat energy? Well you can generally categorize it into five areas:

  • Ceilings
  • Walls
  • Floors and Below Grade Space
  • Windows and Doors
  • Infiltration (air leakage)
No, these are not all the same in terms of their contribution to heat loss. Heat is lost to infiltration and air loss by over 3 times the amount it is lost due to ceilings. These categories generally stack up this way in terms of % heat loss in a home:
  • Infiltration / Air Leakage: 35%
  • Windows and Doors: 18%-20%
  • Floors and Below Grade Space: 15%-18%
  • Walls: 12%-14%
  • Ceilings: 10%
Hmmm... If you were to get ready for winter your inclination would be to buy insulation wouldn't it? Well it's not the best investment (although always a good thing). Reducing your air leaks around plumbing vents, wall electrical outlets and switches, recessed lights exposed to the attic, attic stairs, vertical plumbing stacks open in the basement and other culprits all allow heated air to be drawn from your home and escape out the roof or other openings.

Bottom Line?
Focus on buttoning up your home to air infiltration and leakage first including windows and doors, then focus on investing on insulation. Also, considering insulating the attic first. Although less heat is lost there than the walls, it is much less expensive to insulate the attic than the walls.

Do It Yourself Home Energy Audit
Here is a great source of information on doing an energy audit on your home and finding ways to improve the energy efficiency of your house. This comprehensive checklist provides you a way to evaluate your home and identify and prioritize potential energy efficiency upgrades.

Promotional Feature: View this video series to learn how to take good care of your house.

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