According to the Environmental Protection Agency, or EPA, cooling your home makes up an average of 30% of your energy use in the summertime. If your home isn’t properly insulated, it’s likely costing you a small fortune to stay comfortable. Here, you’ll learn how to find out if heating and cooling losses are causing your energy bills to skyrocket.
Common Causes of Heating and Cooling Losses
There are three main culprits when it comes to heating and cooling losses.
- Ill-fitted or uninsulated doors. Your doors can allow heating and cooling losses if they do not properly fit the openings or if they aren’t properly insulated. Check around your doors for gaps, especially at the top and bottom. If you can see outdoors – even if the gap is only a few millimeters across – you’ll experience significant losses.
- Inefficient windows. Old windows are the number one cause of heating and cooling losses in most homes. Single-pane glass simply does not provide enough insulation between the cool interior of your home and the hot, humid air outside. Today’s replacement windows are incredibly efficient, and many have special gases between the panes of glass that are designed to provide optimal insulation.
- Not enough insulation. Finally, many older homes aren’t properly insulated. If you can put your hand on an exterior wall and feel warmth, this means that there’s not enough insulation to keep the outside heat from absorbing into your home. Floors and attic spaces must also be properly insulated to protect against heating and cooling losses.
Checking for Air Leaks Yourself
There are a few ways you can check for air leaks in your home. For example, you can light a stick of incense, which will create a very small stream of smoke. Then, walk around your home and hold the stick near windows and doors. If you see the smoke move when you get near these areas, you’re going to experience heating and cooling losses. Another way to check for leaks involves using this same technique, only with a lit candle instead of incense. This way, if there is movement of air, the candle’s flame will flicker and pinpoint the leak. Use caution, however, and don’t allow the candle to contact curtains or furniture.
Calling a Professional
If you choose to contact a professional to check for air leaks in your home, he or she will use high-tech equipment to detect even the smallest leaks. Most of the time, this will involve what’s called a pressurization test. Using a large fan, the technician will depressurize your home and check for leaks. Then, he or she will hermetically seal your home and perform the test again. This can show exactly how much air you’re losing – and exactly how much more you’re paying to cool your home because of it.
The Department of Energy says that cooling losses can cause your energy bills to raise by more than 50% depending on the nature and size of air leaks. Calling a professional and taking steps to properly insulate your home can help; upgrading to more efficient windows and doors can help, too.