5 Overlooked Areas to Check for Energy Loss In Your Home
Are you sick of receiving inflated energy bills? Have you already tried fiddling with your thermostat? Replacing your light bulbs? Unplugging your appliances and electronics? Are you looking for an alternative to paying a professional several hundred dollars to figure out what’s wrong with your home? You’re in luck. Here’s a list of 5 often overlooked culprits and ways to find out if these issues are sucking the energy from your home and money from your wallet:
- Fireplace damper – Warm air from your home is often drawn into the chimney flue, and it can sneak out if you have an ineffective damper. You can test the damper by closing it and holding a lit candle inside the firebox. If the flame gets blown out, or close to it, you know air is flowing up the chimney.A chimney sweep can clean your fireplace and replace your damper.
- Drafts – Close doors, windows, and fireplace flues and turn off combustion appliances (gas-burning furnace, water heater). Turn on exhaust fans (usually located in the kitchen and bathrooms), or use a window fan to blow air out of the home. Light sticks of incense and stand near areas you suspect have drafts. The smoke from the incense stick will waver or flow in the direction of the air leak. If you have air leaks around your windows, consider replacing them or winterize them.
- Switches and outlets – Behind those light switches and outlets is a gaping hole that, if not properly insulate, allows air to escape. To check the problem, remove the plate covering the outlet and place a tissue over the opening. Tape the top edge of the tissue to the wall. If the bottom half of the tissue blows, you have a sizable leak that needs to be addressed. You can combat the problem by buying pre-cut foam gasket or an outlet cover at a hardware store.
- Ducts – In an average home with forced-air heating and cooling systems, 20-percent of the air that moves through the duct system is lost due to leaks or holes. To check for leaks, turn on your heating or cooling system fan and feel for any air seeping out from the duct work. Also, shine a flashlight through the vents to spot disconnected or kinked ducts. Seal the leaks or holes with mastic or foil tape. Do NOT use duct tape. Use foam to seal areas where ducts connect to vents and registers or where they pass through walls and floors.
- Attic hatch – You can check to see how much air is escaping through the attic hatch by applying the same incense test you used to look for drafts. Seal the hatch by installing foam weather stripping on the edges of the opening and then put foam board insulation on the back of the hatch door. You can also buy a pre-insulated hatch cover kit.