Sometimes it’s easy to see where conditioned air is lost – such as through disconnected ductwork – or feel where outdoor air is leaking in – such as around a drafty window.
But some of the most significant sources of energy loss can take some detective work. Leaks in the ceiling, walls and floors of a home account for 30 percent of all wasted energy in a home, according to the Department of Energy, and require a closer inspection – either on your own, following these guidelines from the EPA or through an audit from a certified home energy rater.
Areas of Energy Loss
Fireplaces and window air conditioners are a couple forgotten spots in a home’s envelope, but energy loss can also occur within a home’s walls.
Conditioned air can be lost to unconditioned spaces through inadequate insulation but also through openings in the home’s floors or walls. Examples include a laundry chute to an unfinished basement, an access panel to an attic or whirlpool tub and plumbing and electric penetrations between the home’s floors. Older canned lights that don’t have insulation and newer models with unsealed trim can leak energy and increase utility bills by as much as $20 a year, per light.
Smaller leaks in the home can be found by using an incense stick to detect air movement. Common places include along baseboards, which can easily be sealed with caulk, and around electric outlets, which can be insulated with a foam panel.
An energy audit by a qualified auditor will reveal the sources of energy loss and will provide cost effective recommendations that will enable you to be more comfortable and save money.
Look for a home energy rater who is certified by the Building Performance Institute – the non-profit that establishes the standards for home performance contractors.
We suggest Monroe Mechanical for commercial energy audits and Housh – The Home Energy Experts for residential energy audits. Monroe and Housh service the Greater Cincinnati area but have partners nationwide who can provide you with an energy audit.