For the majority of the country, and world for that matter, home heating is much more energy intensive than cooling in the summer months. While we can appreciate insulation keeping a home cool in the summer, it is much more important that it keeps the home warm in winter. Thankfully, once installed insulation products are essentially maintenance-free. While loose insulation may settle over time, this is a concern over time spans of decades. Each fall, however, you should check on the following items to help maintain your homes tight envelope.
Check Doors and Windows
From an insulation standpoint, doors and windows are the weak points compared to walls and ceilings. They start out less insulated than a wall, and with use can become leaky. With doors, the weather stripping that seals the door in its frame can wear out over time. The stripping at the threshold is especially vulnerable, since it sees foot traffic as well. Now is a great time to inspect the weather stripping for any leaks or gaps and replace as necessary.
The weather stripping around windows can also fail over time. Typically, the weather stripping in casement windows is more durable than sash windows, since the sliding action of a sash window is rougher on materials. Reapply stripping as necessary, and replace caulk if it is degraded or chipping. Fixing leaking windows and doors can cut 15 percent or so of your home heating costs.
Order A Furnace Tune-up
Once your house is buttoned-up, it’s important that your heat source is working at peak efficiency. Aside from electric resistance heating, every type of heating system needs periodic maintenance. Oil fired burners need their combustion chambers and nozzles cleaned and oil filters replaced. The flue pipes should be inspected in any combustion furnace to make sure they don’t leak. Even geothermal heat pump systems should have their antifreeze levels checked and ductwork cleaned. Yearly maintenance will keep your furnace running efficiently.
While you’re considering heat sources, rethink your fireplace as well. While open fires are attractive, they are at most a 2% efficient heat source, with the remaining heat escaping outside. If you instead use a fireplace insert, you can achieve similar efficiency to a wood stove, around 75%. In any case, have the chimney swept each year before the heating season.
Clean Your Exterior
While you may think only interior improvements are important in keeping the house warm, exterior issues can compromise your insulation. Debris can cause water to back up into your roof or walls, and water will degrade most types of insulation. By removing debris from the roof and gutters, as well as trimming back plants away from your walls, you help insure that your home insulation will remain durable for years to come.
Of course, if your approach to home energy efficiency entails building a new timber frame home, we would be happy to help with that as well. Contact us today and our staff can get to work designing you a home that is simultaneously efficient and beautiful.