How Your Home Loses Heat and How to Stop It

Saving money on your heating bills

Most people understand the notion that heat escaping from your home means your heater has to work much harder, and this results in larger heating bills. As a consequence, most prudent people will change their furnace filter or have their boiler serviced, will apply some weather stripping to doors and windows, and take other similar precautions before winter really gets started. However, many people completely overlook the three biggest ways their homes lose heat and completely fail to take any measures to prevent this. Recognizing these three ways that heat escapes your home can literally save you a trip to your local payday loan store and hundreds of dollars once it gets cold enough to keep your heater on constantly. Best of all, most of these remedies are fairly simple and inexpensive.

Folding attic stairs

Most attics are accessible by a thin plywood door that has a folding ladder attached to its inside; you pull down the door and the ladder unfolds to the floor allowing you to climb up into the attic. This attic door amounts to an enormous hole in your ceiling, and since heat rises, it can come as no surprise that this is a major escape point for heat during the winter. As the ladder is attached directly to the plywood door, there is usually little, if any, insulation. As most attics are ventilated from outside the house, this means there is little more than a piece of plywood between the inside of your home and the outdoors. Further, it is very difficult to add insulation to these doors while keeping the ability to use the door and the ladder to access the attic. So what can be done? Luckily, many people have come to recognize this problem and you can now buy attic stair covers at most large home improvement stores. Depending on the size of your attic entrance, these covers usually cost between $50.00 and $150.00, however you are likely to save at least that much on your heating bill in the first season.

Fireplaces

Although it may seem a bit counter-intuitive, fireplaces and chimneys represent a primary escape route for heat from your home. Even when a fire is burning, most of the heat is wasted as it rises up and through the chimney. When there is no fire, there is a constant draft sucking air from inside your house out. It has been estimated that an improperly insulated fireplace, especially one without doors that can be closed when it is not in use, adds up to thirty percent to the heating bill. Closing your damper when the fireplace is not in use does help some, but few are properly insulated to stop much of the heat loss. Beyond closing the damper when the fireplace is not in use, another helpful remedy for this problem is to install doors on the front of your fireplace that can be closed when it is not in use. Unfortunately, many people do not like this idea because it interferes with the décor and style of the fireplace. Another fairly cost effective option is to buy a draft stopper. A draft stopper is an inflatable stopper that can be inserted in the top of the fireplace and inflated to seal the gap firmly. This is by far the most effective solution, but it is very important to remember to remove the draft stopper before lighting the fireplace.

Clothes dryers

Many people think of their dryers as sources of heat, not as drains on it. However, they also use a continuous flow of air, sucking air from inside your home and then expelling it through the exhaust vent to the outside. This happens whether your dryer is using a heat setting or simply air drying clothes; the heat loss is the same. Basically, every time you use your dryer, air inside that room is sucked into the machine and then expelled through the exhaust vent. The only options to prevent this loss of heat is to either not heat the room that houses the dryer or to use the dryer as little as possible. Heat also escapes from the dryer’s vent as well, especially if it is not sealed well. Not only does a poorly sealed dryer vent allow heat to escape, it is also a popular way that insects and rodents get into your home. Whether you choose to use your dryer or not, it is well worth the effort to see if your dryer’s vent is sealed and insulated well.

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