Imagine leaving a window open all winter long—the heat loss, cold drafts and wasted energy! If your home has a folding attic stair, fireplace or clothes dryer, that may be just what is occurring in your home every day. These often overlooked sources of heat loss and air leakage can cause heat to pour out and the cold outside air to rush in—costing you higher heating bills. If you’re ready to lower your heating costs this winter, here are a few things to keep in mind.
Air leaks are the largest source of heating and cooling loss in the home. Air leaks occur through the small cracks around doors, windows, pipes, etc. Most homeowners are well aware of the benefits caulk and weatherstripping provide to minimize heat loss and cold drafts. But what can you do about the three largest “holes” in your home—the folding attic stair, the fireplace and the clothes dryer? Here are some tips and techniques that can easily, quickly and inexpensively seal and insulate these holes.
Sixty-five percent, or approximately 100 million homes, in North America are constructed with wood or gas burning fireplaces. Unfortunately, there are negative side effects that the fireplace brings to a home especially during the winter home-heating> season. Fireplaces are energy losers.
Researchers have studied this to determine the amount of heat loss through a fireplace, and the results are amazing. One research study showed that an open damper on an unused fireplace in a well-insulated house can raise overall heating-energy consumption by 30 percent. A recent study showed that for many consumers, their heating bills may be more than $500 higher per winter due to the air leakage and wasted energy caused by fireplaces.
Why does a home with a fireplace have higher heating bills? Hot air rises. Your heated air leaks out any exit it can find, and when warm heated air is drawn out of your home, cold outside air is drawn in to make up for it. The fireplace is like a giant straw sucking the heated air from your house.
An easy, low-cost solution to this problem is to add a fireplace draftstopper. Available from Battic Door, a company known for their energy conservation products, a fireplace draftstopper is an inflatable pillow that seals the damper, eliminating any air leaks. The pillow is removed whenever the fireplace is used, then reinserted after.
Clothes Dryer Exhaust Ducts
In many homes, the room with the clothes dryer is the coldest room in the house. Your clothes dryer is connected to an exhaust duct that is open to the outdoors. In the winter, cold air leaks in through the duct, through your dryer and into your house.
Dryer vents use a sheet-metal flapper to try to reduce this air leakage. This is very primitive technology that does not provide a positive seal to stop the air leakage. Compounding the problem is that over time, lint clogs the flapper valve causing it to stay open.
An easy, low-cost solution to this problem is to add a dryer vent seal. This will reduce unwanted air in filtration, and keep out pests, bees and rodents as well. The vent will remain closed unless the dryer is in use. When the dryer is in use, a floating shuttle rises to allow warm air, lint and moisture to escape.
Learn More About Lowering Costs This Winter
These are just a few examples on how to lower your heating costs this winter. To find out more tips and tricks to reduce your monthly bills, contact ABC Home & Commercial Services.