By: Sara Graham & Danni Eickenhorst
Whether you’re concerned with energy conservation, or if you’re just concerned with keeping your utility bills low this winter, we have the information you need to make your home more energy-efficient this winter. Read on for information on the three biggest sources of winter energy loss, and solutions to help with seasonal energy savings during the colder weather.
Leaky Windows and Doors
In the winter, leaky doors and windows are easy to spot when cold air seeps in and indoor temperatures start to drop. To address this in the short term, install weather stripping on drafty windows and doors and insulating drapes over windows. A longer term solution for a more sustainable home is to replace old, drafty windows with new ENERGY STAR windows, which may reduce heating and cooling costs by up to 15 percent.
If your house already has a fireplace, be sure to keep the damper closed when the fireplace is not in use. Make sure the hearth is completely sealed, has tempered glass doors and a heat-air exchange system to blow warm air efficiently into the room. If you are building a custom home or renovating, choose an energy-efficient fireplace, such as the shallow Rumford fireplaces, which reflect more heating into the room and retain more of the energy produced.
Energy Star reports that homeowners could save as much as 20 percent of their utility costs by identifying and fixing air leaks in their home’s “thermal envelope,” – a term that refers to the exterior walls, roof and foundation of the home.
Rising warm air often escapes through poorly insulated ceilings and roofs and escapes through holes and cracks – large and small. The same spots that let warm air out will let cold air, and sometimes moisture, into your home.
In building new high-performance homes, we pay special attention to developing a strong thermal envelope to prevent air leaks. (See below for resources on our advanced framing techniques.)
When making improvements to an existing home to improve energy efficiency and thermal, consider the following:
- Identify all sources of air leaks within your home’s thermal envelope. Seal any large or visible cracks first with an appropriate foam insulation.
- Make sure all openings from plumbing, dryer vents, windowpanes, recessed lights and unfinished spaces in closets are completely sealed.
- When replacing insulation, look at the insulation material’s R-rating. The higher the number, the better it will perform in terms of resisting heat flow.
For more on how to improve your attic’s insulation, check out this short video from This Old House.
If you’re considering a custom home build or renovation, contact us St. Louis’s high performance home builder for more on building plans and sustainable home design. Email us or reach out by phone at (314) 581-8205 to discuss your project.