Now that summer is over and people are shifting their focus from the fun and sun to getting ready for winter, there are some things you should do before the cold weather hits. A lot of times, there are areas in your home that if allowed to go un-checked, can really effect your fuel usage. It does not matter if you heat with Natural Gas, Fuel Oil, Propane, Electricity, or Wood, if you don’t have your home sealed and weatherized, you are throwing money away!
There are many areas of your home that facilitate this process, and conversely, if corrected you will feel a difference immediately. Many homeowners always tell me their house is too drafty, or they want to replace all their windows because they feel drafts. I want to tell you why its drafty and why replacing of windows is not always a solution.
Your home may or may not have insulation existing, that is something that most people are aware of, (when they have some they know and when none is present, they usually know it as well). Insulation works like a down winter coat, the more down in your coat, the thicker it is and the more distance you have from your body heat to the outside cold air. Pretty cut and dry. The process that is being effected is a conductive heat loss. The more insulation your home has, the less the heat loss you’ll experience. But there is another type of heat loss at work, one that cannot be seen, but definitely can be felt. What I’m talking about is the convective heat loss, or air movement. Insulation, by itself, does not stop air from moving, its passive, so air flow moves right through your insulation. This process happens because of some atmospheric conditions. The first rule of thermo-dynamics states that high pressure, (heated), air moves to lower pressure, (un-heated), air, and just like electricity, air takes the paths of least resistance. So in the wintertime, you are using fuel to heat up the air in your home and make it more comfortable. That heated air is now being drawn to all the colder air that is surrounding your home. The easiest way for that heated air to get to cold air is to go up, and find the attic. The heated air finds it way to your attic by going through many egresses. It is traveling through the network of top plates, (the area where your partition walls meet the ceiling), your attic access, (doors, hatches and pull downs), and wiring penetrations, (both for fixtures through the ceilings and also for switches and outlets that are wired through the framing members of the wall). It is estimated that if you were able to consolidate all the areas of your home’s ceiling permeability, you would have a hole about 5 feet in diameter! Your home has a volume of air that it maintains, when you lose air to the attic, your home is going to replace that heated air, with cold outside air. This comes in from leaks in the foundation, leaky doors and windows, etc. Now your heating system has to burn more fuel to make the air warm again, all so you can lose it.
So as you can see based on this process, windows do play a role in the heat loss of your home, but replacing them, just by itself will not make your home less drafty. The only way to insure that the drafts in your home are reduced, is to have the home Air Sealed. Air sealing requires sealing off the pathways we outlined above, and also sealing areas of your basement, (rim joist), and in your living space. A window salesman is not going to tell you this, replacement windows can be very pricey, and although they boast “35%” reduction in utility bills, the reality is that a replacement window, on average, can take 12 to 15 years to give you a return on investment.
If you are a Massachusetts resident, you could be eligible for FREE air sealing through the MassSave program, you read that right FREE! If you live in Rhode Island, EnergyWise can give you a substantial discount off the cost of having the home air sealed! Alternative Weatherization works with both of these programs and can help you to get started immediately. Give us a call, (508) 567-4240 and set up a time for me to come out and assess your home. This is a no cost assessment and you are not obligated to anything. Take the first step in making your home more Energy Efficient, call Alternative Weatherization today!