Drafts are blowing through my 38-year-old house. In the family room in particular, it’s icy cold on the (carpeted) floor where my kids play and I’m bundled in my Snuggie on the couch.
So far it’s been a fairly mild winter, but those windy days seem to seep through every crack and crevice of the doors and windows and down through the chimney.
My back door is the worst offender: if you press your eye to the place where the door meets the wall you can see the backyard.
That isn’t right.
So, we’ve begun to take steps to make our home more energy efficient and warmer, and to hopefully reduce our impact on the environment while we are at it. We’ve never really “winterized” our home before, and that has probably been a mistake.
Now, new doors are being installed next week and with that come new frames, caulking and weatherstriping. According to the U.S. Department of Energymall, drafts and small leaks can sap home energy efficiency by 5 to 30 percent a year. And it’s not just around windows and doors.
The Daily Green reminds us to look carefully at places like corners, around chimneys, where pipes or wires exit and along the foundation. They suggest the
incense test: “carefully (avoiding drapes and other flammables) move a lit stick along walls; where the smoke wavers, you have air sneaking in. And heating or cooling sneaking out.”
If you don’t have storm doors (and windows too, for that matter), consider installing them. The Daily Green claims that doing so can increase energy efficiency “by 45 percent, by sealing drafts and reducing air flow.”
There are a number of winterization ideas that are quick and easy. First, change your furnace filter. At this time of year you’re supposed to do that once a month! Dirty filters restrict airflow and therefore increase energy demand.
Secondly, make sure your furnace is properly cleaned and maintained. Again, this will reduce energy use and save you money.
Next, consider adding additional insulation around your home, especially in the attic. And at the same time, make sure that your pipes are properly insulated as well.
Typically, a home loses heat in the following areas: ceilings, walls, floors, windows and doors, and “infiltration (air loss).” About.com explains that “these are not all the same in terms of their contribution to heat loss. Heat is lost to infiltration…by over 3 times the amount it is lost due to ceilings. These categories generally stack up this way in terms of percent heat loss in a home:
Infiltration / Air Leakage: 35 percent
Windows and Doors: 18 - 20 percent
Floors and Below Grade Space: 15 - 18 percent
Walls: 12 - 14 percent
Ceilings: 10 percent
The federal government will often help pay for of the improvements you make when winterizing your home, as they offer you tax incentives for doing so.
Really understanding your own home’s energy use is a huge step in improving efficiency, which in turn will save you money and is better for the environment. The government’s Energy Star website offers free tools to help you get started.