An energy-efficient home is not only good for the environment, it is good for your wallet, too. Anything you can do to save energy and make your home more energy-efficient can also result in side benefits such as reduced noise levels and reducing your family’s carbon footprint (if the home is heated by a fossil fuel). Regardless of how new your home is or how well it is built, fall home maintenance should include ways to prevent heat loss.
Conduct an Energy audit
If you’ve never done an energy audit or if you haven’t done one in the past five years, get one done or conduct an energy audit of your own. An energy audit analyzes the ways you and your family are currently consuming energy and shows you how to become more energy-efficient. It will reveal what’s working and what’s not. Natural Resources Canada has a lot of useful information about energy efficiency for homes. It is recommended that homeowners get an energy audit done biennially (every two years).
Upgrade or Add Insulation
Upgrading the insulation of your home or adding insulation where there is none will reduce the amount of warm air escaping outside and cold air infiltrating the interior of your home. Exterior walls, the floor, windows, and entry doors can compromise your home energy efficiency if they are not properly insulated.
Check the roof – after a snowfall or temperatures drop below freezing, and there are patches of melted snow or ice, that is a sign of heat loss. Precipitation will melt when the temperature rises and freeze when they drop if a roof is warmed by escaping air. Consult with a roofing contractor to see if the attic needs new insulation.
Wood Burning Fireplaces
If you have a wood-burning fireplace, heat is escaping through the chimney when it is in use. But air also escapes up the chimney when there is no fire. Flue sealers, inflatable devices typically made of heavy plastic, are intended to block air when the fireplace is not in use. Doors (a permanent installation) or covers (removable) are designed to close off the fireplace, preventing warm from escaping.
Regularly clean and inspect the fireplace and chimney to prevent heat loss up the chimney. It will also ensure that the fireplace will be safe to operate, eliminating dangers like nesting animals and the accumulations of soot and dirt. The flue should be inspected as well to ensure it functions smoothly and the seal is tight.
For fireplaces that have been converted to gas or for chimneys that are no longer in use for any other reason, they should be capped by a professional roof expert.
Doors and Windows
Inspect the frames of entry doors and windows, both interior and exterior, for gaps where damaged caulking needs to be replaced. Any gaps beneath the front door and other entry doors in your home should be addressed.
Whenever you exit or enter your home, make sure the door is properly closed. In the colder months of the year, get into the habit of locking windows, if already installed. In addition to being properly caulked, a locked window will keep warm air in and cold air out.
Look for other Gaps
Other places on your home’s exterior where gaps can let in cold air are around vents, eaves (the roof edge), and skylights where flashings need to be resealed or replaced. Inspect siding panels for damage and repair as soon as possible if the damage is severe enough to let in air and/or water.
Replace the Roof
If your home is drafty but the attic is insulated and there doesn’t appear to be air coming in or exiting through the windows and doors, the culprit could be the roof. Signs a roof needs to be replaced are large areas of damaged roof shingles (curled, split, buckling, etc.); more than just a few missing shingles; and the consistent appearance of roof granules when cleaning the gutters (asphalt roofs).