Staying warm in the winter can be a challenge even in climates where the temperature doesn’t typically drop below freezing. This is especially true in older homes and homes with inadequate insulation or construction issues. Most people turn up their thermostat to stay warm in the winter and accept the higher cost of heating their home. They may assume that’s just the way it is during the winter and not consider the true causes of feeling chilly indoors.
The United States Energy Information Administration (EIA) reports that slightly more than one-quarter of household energy consumption results from the use of space heaters. Discovering a way to keep more heat inside of the home and improve the energy efficiency of windows can make a significant difference with energy usage and cost.
Below are some tips for homeowners and property managers to discover the sources of heat loss and take steps to minimize it.
Common Areas of Heat Loss in a Home
Heat escaping through a home’s walls make up 35 percent of overall heat loss. This heat loss contributes significantly to decreased energy efficiency. Considering the exterior side of a home’s walls face the cold air outside, it makes sense that walls are the greatest source of heat loss in most homes.
Because many older homes also lack proper insulation, homeowners may need to remove their existing drywall. This will enable them to add higher quality insulating foam. They will then need to replace their interior walls to cover the new insulation.
The basement and floors of a typical home contribute approximately 15 percent to overall heat loss. The reason for the heat loss is that most foundational slabs underneath flooring don’t contain a high enough R-Value to prevent heat loss through floors.
Attics are another primary source of heat loss, accounting for an approximate 25 percent drop in energy efficiency. Poor ventilation, holes or cracks in the walls of the attic, inadequate insulating foam, and improper placement of insulating foam contribute to attic heat loss the most.
Windows and doors also cause a 25 percent loss of heat in the typical home. Cracks and air leaks in either windows or doors contribute most to this problem. Caulking and weather-stripping around each window frame can reduce the rate of heat loss, but this is only a temporary solution. Many homeowners decide that replacing the windows provides a better long-term return on investment and saves them time as well.
Consider an Upgrade to More Energy Efficient Windows
The right windows in a home can make significant difference in comfort during the Summer and Winter. Consumers looking to replace old or leaky windows should ask about the energy efficiency rating of each new window as a starting point. Other things to consider when window shopping include:
Climate and geographic location
Window manufacturers produce new windows according to region in the country. Regions include the Northwest, Northeast, Midwest, and South. People shopping for new windows should ask a retail associate to direct them to window options appropriate for their region.
Type of glass
Original windows in older homes are often only a single pane. Single pane windows hold the least amount of heat inside of the home. When it comes to staying warm and increasing energy efficiency, consumers should upgrade to double or triple-pane windows. They should specifically ask whether the window has argon gas between panes since this helps to improve the insulating factor.
The direction each window faces determines whether homeowners should consider extra coatings for them. Glass panes made with low-emissivity coatings enable the window to provide extra insulation. Another benefit of this coating is that it helps to prevent the glass from fading. This is due to exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet rays.
After consumers select windows, they must ensure proper installation to receive the insulating benefits. Those who don’t understand installation terms such as bowing, level, plumb, and square should take pause. Rather than doing the work themselves, most consumers should hire a professional window installer.
The final decision with a window upgrade is what type of frame to buy. Vinyl frames reduce heat loss the most while wood frames come in a close second. Fiberglass window frames also contain insulating properties.
Upgrading to more energy efficient windows is often the simplest and most cost-effective solution for homeowners and property managers. Starting with that step should make a big difference.
Most families want to reduce their heating bills as much as possible and stay warm. Therefore, identifying and responding to problem areas in the attic, floors, basement, and walls enables these goals. Investigating the energy efficiency of windows in the home is yet another key factor.