If you'd like to lower your heating bills this winter, you should strongly consider air sealing and insulating your home. Both of these steps are effective and inexpensive ways to immediately cut your conditioning bills, and in most cases won't cost a lot in either time or money.
Professional energy auditing companies use a blower door test to find the air leaks in your home, and you can imitate the test in your home. Start by making a drawing of your home's perimeter, including all the levels. Then:
- Close all the exterior doors and windows and shut off gas-burning appliances.
- Turn on the exhaust fans in the kitchen and bathroom.
- Walk along the inside perimeter of your home with a lighted stick of incense and write down where the smoke wavers. Good places to focus your efforts include the windows, exterior doors, sill plate between the basement and first floor, and places where pipes, cables or wires come indoors. Inspect the attic during the day. If you can see light leaking around the chimney or flues, note them as well.
- Seal the smaller air leaks with exterior caulk. Expanding foam works well for larger leaks. If your chimney or flue has gaps, use metal flashing around them or a fireproof sealant.
If you can see the rafters in the attic, you can benefit from adding insulation. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) recommends you have at least 15 inches of insulation in the attic. Good choices include fiberglass batt or cellulose blown-in insulation. Both are highly durable and stop the transfer of heat. If space is limited, consider rigid foam, which has a higher insulating rating, inch for inch.
The ductwork in your home can also be a significant energy drain. Sealing air leaks and insulating them goes a long way toward lowering air and thermal losses in your home. In fact, the DOE estimates that both can raise energy bills by 30 percent or more. If you'd like more information, please contact Joe Behr Plumbing and Heating. We've provided HVAC services for the mid-Ohio area since 1965.
Our goal is to help educate our customers in the Mid-Ohio area about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems). For more information about air sealing and insulating and other HVAC topics, visit our website.