Is your house a sieve?
Daisy 2008-09-16 00:00:47
Canadian winters can be a real shock to the pocketbook if you have recently moved into an older home. Even for homes that aren't so old, sometimes we forget just how much energy and money is required to keep a house decently heated. September is the ideal time to ensure all your ducts are in a row (yes, pun intended) and that you're well prepared for the upcoming cold.
Did you know that Canadians spend the majority of energy in all forms (natural gas, electricity, etc) in order to heat air, or water in our homes and offices? A great way to spend less energy and money is by ensuring your home is in tip-top shape to prevent energy loss through cracks and holes. If your home has a lot of air leakage, it would be similar to spending precious dollars heating the space while leaving the front and back door open. Seal up the cracks today to prevent heat loss. Not sure where the cracks may be? They are most common around openings to the exteriors (think windows, doors, electrical outlets, wiring, etc). There are gadgets galore at your local hardware stores specially made to help stop the leaks. Even those child-proof caps for outlets do double duty of safety and stopping the leaks for just a few dollars. Don't forget to look up towards your ceiling - there is typically heat loss up through the attic by way of ceiling light fixtures. A great way to detect drafts is to purchase a smoke pencil which will easily show you where the biggest drafts are by watching the speed and direction of the smoke.
Even in a home with few drafts, it would be smart to ensure there is adequate insulation throughout your home. Remember that warm air rises and if your attic doesn't have enough insulation, your precious warm air (which is the equivalent of energy = money) could literally be rising and leaving your home right through the ceiling. Attic insulation can be an extremely cost-effective way to cut down on your heating costs if your current insulation is not quite up to snuff.
Of course, the machine that actually heats your home needs to be looked at as well. If your furnace is an older conventional one that may be only 60% efficient, it may be worthwhile to replace it with a newer model of high-efficiency furnaces that are more than 90% efficient so that you're really putting the energy to good use.
What you end up doing depends a lot on your current home's state, as well as your budget. Even for folks with no dollars to spend on any upgrades, it still pays to look at some very basic options to seal up the cracks. That alone will save you in energy costs while providing that extra comfort on those cooler days. And lastly, we all know we should just dress warmly right? Just as we wouldn't sit around in Parkas in the air conditioned summer time, we shouldn't expect to sit in shorts and t-shirts in the winter time and not have to pay for it in energy costs and usage. Ensure you've got extra blankets and sweaters to keep everyone toasty; it's also a great excuse to snuggle up with loved ones on those extra chilly days.
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