Have you ever found your energy bill was much higher than you expected? Or that it is significantly increasing with each bill? There are many reasons why your energy bill fluctuates, and of course the more you use your heating or cooling systems, the higher your bill. However, if your bills are higher than normal, it is very likely your air conditioning unit is working overtime. The common culprit? Poor insulation and air leaks throughout the home. Did you know heating and cooling makes up 48 per cent of total energy use in American homes? Or that air leakage accounts for 15-25 per cent of winter heat loss? The impact on your energy bills can be huge. In this article, we will be covering how proper insulation and sealing air leaks can keep your home (and wallet!) more comfortable all year round.
Heating and cooling is one of the largest expenses for most US homes. However, unbeknown to many homeowners, most homes experience some form of air leakage, which is where outside air enters your home and conditioned air exits your home. These air leaks cause your heating and cooling system to work much harder in order to keep your home at a comfortable temperature, which in turn spikes your energy bill. Reducing or eliminating air leaks means your home will maintain a consistent temperature, saving you money in the process. Air typically leaks through:
- Unsealed or poorly sealed doors and windows
- Poorly designed airlocks
- Unsealed vents, skylights and exhaust fans
- Gaps in or around ceiling insulation and around ceiling penetrations
- Gaps around wall penetrations (pipes, conduits, power outlets, switches, air conditioners and heaters)
- Gaps between envelope element junctions (e.g. floor−wall or wall−ceiling)
- Poorly fitted or shrunken floorboards
When it comes to poorly sealed windows, oftentimes replacing the window is your best and most cost-effective option. At Windows on Washington, we recommend the Starmark Evo double hung window because it is one of the best in the market thanks to its superior material and construction. Made of advanced polymeric composite (APC), the Starmark Evo double hung window has some of the strongest sashes and frames available, which makes it incredibly durable. It also contains unique features that minimize air leakage, which makes it the ultimate replacement window for homeowners experiencing pesky air leaks caused by old or insufficient windows.
How to fix air leaks
Caulking and weather-stripping are two of the more common ways to fix air leaks. Weather-stripping is the process of sealing the openings around doors and windows to prevent air from entering and escaping. This includes any material that helps block air flow such as foam, vinyl, felt and tape. Caulk is a multipurpose material that seals air leaks created by gaps, cracks and joints. It is ideal for sealing cracks less than 1-quarter-inch wide. Or, if air leakage is primarily coming from your window, it might be time to look at getting them replaced.
Insulation stops the transfer of heat; in winter it stops cold air from outside penetrating inside, and vice versa during summer. Properly installed and efficient insulation is the hallmark of an energy efficient home. There are four common types of insulation, each used for different parts of a home. They are:
- Blanket insulation: Filled with mineral fibers, including rockwool and fiberglass
- Polyurethane and polyisocyanurate foam insulation: Sprayed into the crevices and cavities of a home by a professional installer
- Loose fill insulation: Consisting of cellulose, rockwool and/or fiberglass, contained in pellets or fibers and installed with pneumatic tools.
- Rigid insulation: Typically packaged in boards or pipe fittings and is often used to insulate wall sheaths and foundations.
So, is it time to upgrade your insulation or fix pesky air leaks in your home? Get in touch with Windows on Washington today to see how we can help.