From improperly insulated roofs and walls to windows and entryways, precious heat can be escaping out of your home. You may not even realize that your home is leaking so much heat. If Your windows and doors are old or in need of repair, you could be allowing hundreds of dollars to fly out your windows every year.
Luckily there are a few easy ways to locate where these leaks may be. The quicker you find these leaks the sooner you can fix them and get on track to save while becoming more energy efficient.
1. Cool to the Touch
The first check you should do on your home when you are trying to lock your heat in your house is by simply touching external walls, windows, and doors. Surfaces that are cold to the touch are often leaking heat due to improper insulation. If a wall is properly insulated you should not feel much of a difference in temperature from the rooms air to the wall. This is true for windows and doors too.
If you touch a surface and find that it is cold, you should look to improve the insulation there. Installing an insulated door to replace your current one can save money on the cost of heating. Or you can get replacement windows that conserve heat.
2. The Smoke Test
Another easy and cheap method for finding where heat may be leaking out of your home is to do a smoke test using a candle or incense. To do this properly, turn off all fans and blowers in the house. It is also smart to complete this test on a cold or windy day as the smoke will be pulled out of the house. Take the candle or incense along the edges of all of your windows and doors. By doing this you can see the smoke moving out of the cracks.
Sealing off some of the holes you find may be as simple as applying new caulking at the damaged sites. For older windows with significant amounts of wear and tear, you may need to do a full replacement. By replacing these windows you can not only seal off where those leaks were but you can choose a double or triple paned window with trapped argon to reduce the amount of heat radiating out your windows.
3. Compressed Air Leak Detector
Since some air leaks are almost impossible to see using the smoke method, other methods must be used to locate them. The best way to detect leaks is to use an ultrasonic acoustic detector, which can recognize the high-frequency hissing sounds associated with air leaks.
Ultrasonic leak detection is probably the most versatile form of leak detection. Due to its capabilities, it is readily adapted to a variety of leak detection situations.
The advantages of ultrasonic leak detection include versatility, speed, ease of use, the ability to perform tests while equipment is running, and the ability to find a wide variety of leaks. They require a minimum of training, and operators often become competent after 15 minutes of training. This means you can look into grabbing on online and checking your home yourself. However, you are always urged to reach out to professionals who are trained with years of experience to help you detect these sneaky leaks.
4. Determine How Much Space You are Heating
In newer houses, there can be plenty of extra space that you may not be using. This raises your energy bills. And paying to heat rooms that do not need to be heated means that money is essentially flowing right out the window. There are several methods to fix this issue depending on how your home’s designed. If you have heat vents in your house, consider closing vents in unused rooms. If your home just has empty open space, consider either filling or closing off those spaces.
Keep in mind the stack effect on multi-story homes. The stack effect refers to the movement of air in and out of homes and other buildings, essentially creating large-scale chimneys. The rising warm air in a home will pull in cool air from the outside through any gap it can find. This creates negative pressure in lower levels, creating a vaccum effect in the lower levels of your house. This pulls cool air in and obviously chills the home. The effect is magnified in taller homes (more air rising to greater heights, so more cool air is being pulled in), so be extra aware of the stack effect if you live in a multiple-story home.
5. Blower Door Test
If you don’t want to discover your home’s air leaks on your own, or you are concerned you may have missed a few- then you always have the option to hire a professional. Professional energy auditors can conduct a “blower-door” test on your home.
Similar to the candle test, a blower door test can assess the airtightness of your home and detect air leaks. During this test a specialized fan is attached to your home’s door frame, which then pulls air out of your home, resulting in a lower interior air pressure. Once the fan is stopped, the higher air pressure outside the home tries to find its way back into your home through any cracks or crevices. A smoke stick is then used to locate those areas that are leaking and vulnerable to heat loss. These tests are usually not very expensive, and in many areas, you can apply for a free energy audit from your local utility company which can include a blower door test, appliance efficiency testing and more.