Your electric bill is likely one of the most significant challenges in your budget. It fluctuates throughout the year depending on weather patterns and changing seasons. Sometimes the culprit of expensive utility bills is your HVAC unit working overtime to compensate for extreme heat or freezing air. You could overpay because of a variety of other energy thieves as well.
Check out the top five common sources of energy leaks in your home. Fixing them will address your energy loss and improve your home's thermal envelope. The days of worrying about your electric bill are about to become a thing of the past.
An Open Chimney
Fireplaces are a positive home feature that many people put on their must-have list. They create a cozy atmosphere and add ambiance to any room. They're also a potential problem when it comes to your energy bill.
Traditional fireplaces lose 90% of the fire's heat because they're open. It's not safe to start a fire with a closed chimney damper, but you can still conserve more heat in other ways. Keep the damper closed halfway or install a fireplace insert so it radiates more heat. When you retain more heat from your fireplace, your HVAC unit won't need to stay on as long to heat the colder rooms in your home.
Leaks Around Windows
Windows of all sizes require proper sealing to prevent leaks. With time and the elements, the adhesive and weather stripping can break down or chip away. It's normal to experience a few leaks here and there around your home, so investigate to find out if this is the source of your energy loss.
Hold a lit candle or another open flame to the edges of your windows. If it flickers, you've found a leak. Use toxin-free caulk to create a new seal without adding harmful airborne particles to your indoor air.
Low-Quality or Rotting Insulation
Most homeowners never think about their insulation. It's hidden away in the walls and some floors, so it's out of sight and mind. If water leaks into that insulation, it soaks up the moisture and rots away.
Poor insulation won't retain the heat or cold air your home needs to stay comfortable. Take a close look around your home and check for signs of rot to identify trouble spots. If the insulation has begun to grow mold, the wood around it will do the same.
Cracks in Your Roof
Even though you might not visit your attic until the holiday seasons require it, it plays an essential role in energy retention. It maintains your home's temperature by trapping air — unless there are tiny cracks that grow with time.
Cracks form for a variety of reasons, but weather events are the most common culprit. Consider how often your home shelters you from thunderstorms, hurricanes or even tornadoes. Head up to your roof to inspect it for cracks, broken shingles, stains or warping.
You can also minimize roof damage with preventive care after spotting and fixing cracks. Cleaning your gutters and doing a light inspection after major storms may prevent future energy loss and save you money.
Poor Thermal Bridging
Thermal bridging happens every day in houses and rarely gets addressed. It's the process that allows heat to pass through walls and even insulation, specifically around wall studs. Studs contain conductive material that transfers heat three times faster than insulation.
Applying insulation strips around your studs is a quick fix, but it might not be the ultimate solution. Extreme energy loss may require additional wall or floor insulation. A professional contractor can use infrared thermography (IRT) to map heat loss and pinpoint where your home experiences the most thermal bridging.
Conduct Regular Inspections
When you open your monthly electric bill and find a higher total than you expected, it's time to start regular home inspections. Try to spot common sources of energy leaks like cracks in your roof or an open chimney damper. After a bit of investigation, you'll know which potential energy solutions your home requires.
Written by Evelyn Long
About the Author
Evelyn Long is the editor-in-chief of Renovated, where she publishes home improvement and green building advice for builders and homeowners alike.
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