What are the Biggest Sources of Energy Loss During Winter?

Saturday, November 29th, 2014 by Danny Peterson

Allow us to state the obvious: Winter can be an expensive season. And not just because of Christmas shopping or travel expenses, either. Winter brings with it a number of seasonal home maintenance issues and needs, not the least of which is a drain on energy bills. As any Baltimore homeowner can readily attest, it takes a lot of money to keep a home comfortable during the coldest months of the year.

The Importance of Auditing

That’s why we recommend that homeowners conduct a home energy audit, which will highlight some areas in which you can improve energy efficiency—ultimately slashing your winter utility costs. Consider this example: Finding a hole around your kitchen window, where heat escapes and cool air is let in, and then patching that hole, can lead to discernable savings on your utility bills. In other words, identifying the primary areas of energy loss—and taking some measures to avert that loss—can pay for itself, over time. The question is, what are some of the most significant areas of energy loss, particularly during the winter season?

Some Problem Areas

A few of the most significant areas for winter energy loss include:

  • Many of the biggest trouble spots are found in the attic. Take attic holes, for example—holes made to accommodate pipes and vents that go down into the house. Even a small opening around a pipe or duct can lead to immense heat loss. An attic insulation specialist can help remedy this problem; else, you can try to patch things up with some simple foam insulation spray.
  • Attic access hatches are also problem areas. A ceiling opening, up into your attic, can lead to heat loss, as the warmth from your home drifts up into the cold attic. Make sure you have weather stripping around the edges of these openings. Also, the backside of the hatch should be insulated. Again, an attic insulation professional can assist, if need be.
  • Do you have any recessed lighting in your home? This can be another area where heat loss occurs, as there will be a gap in attic insulation where these recessed lights are located. You can fill any gaps you see with caulk.
  • Of course, much energy loss happens around your windows and doors. As noted above, spotting gaps, cracks, or holes where air can escape can lead to huge energy savings. Caulk and weather stripping can be used to seal these areas.
  • Believe it or not, even electrical outlets can prove problematic, as cold air can seep through the sockets—but using some foam gaskets can significantly reduce this effect. This may be a job for a professional electrician, mind you!
  • Do you have a fireplace in your home? If so, be mindful of your fireplace damper. An ill-fitting damper—or even a missing damper!—can allow air to move up and down your chimney with total freedom, which can obviously lead to some heat loss. If you suspect an air leak in your flue, it may be advantageous to have a new one installed.
  • Finally: Make sure to remove your window air conditioning units, now that winter is near. If you can’t remove them, seal the area around them with some caulk, or get a special insulation blanket for that window.

Clearly, there are many areas to watch out for as you think about winter energy loss. Being mindful of these areas can ultimately save you big bucks on your heating bills, so taking the time for a full-house inspection is definitely worthwhile!