Reduce Your Heating Bills This Winter
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.
By Mark D. Tyrol
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.
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.
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.
attic stairs are installed, a large hole (approximately 10 square
feet) is created in your ceiling. The ceiling and insulation that
were there have to be removed, leaving only a thin, unsealed,
sheet of plywood.
attic space is ventilated directly to the outdoors. In the winter,
the attic space can be very cold, and in the summer it can be
very hot. And what is separating your conditioned house from your
unconditioned attic? That thin sheet of plywood.
a gap can be observed around the perimeter of the door. Try this
yourself: at night, turn on the attic light and shut the attic
stairway door -- do you see any light coming through? These are
gaps add up to a large opening where your heated/cooled air leaks
out 24 hours a day. This is like leaving a window open all year
easy, low-cost solution to this problem is to add an attic stair
cover. An attic stair cover provides an air seal, reducing the
air leaks. Add the desired amount of insulation over the cover
to restore the insulation removed from the ceiling.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
Dryer Exhaust Ducts
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.
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.
easy, low-cost solution to this problem is to add a dryer vent
seal. This will reduce unwanted air infiltration, 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.
D. Tyrol is a Professional Engineer specializing in cause and
origin of construction defects. He developed several residential
energy conservation products including an attic stair cover and
a fireplace draftstopper. To learn more visit www.batticdoor.com.