Wednesday, February 25, 2015
"Turn down you heat one degree C." When we average out our heating costs over the course of the year, this tiny change can save about a dollar each day, and it can reduce carbon emissions by over six hundred pounds per year (300 Kilos). This savings, from just one degree, can amount to hundreds of dollars each year. The claim, as I have heard it is that the "comfort range" is between 68 and 72 degrees F (20-22 C). Oddly enough, the healthiest temperature for sleeping is closer to 61 degrees F. (16 C). I know that people don't like to be cold, but the cost of a sweater is far less than the fuel to keep us cozy. There are professionals who will utilize blower door technology and heat imaging cameras to identify heat loss and air leaks in your home or office, but they come with a commensurate cost. Technology, and the skills to utilize it are rarely cheap. Luckily, there is an option for those trying to live better for less. If you buy some incense, or a punk (sawdust compressed onto a stick) even a cigarette will work, you can use the smoke as a tell tale for where leaks in your home's envelope are located. First, especially if you have forced air heat, turn your furnace off while doing this experiment. Walk SLOWLY around your home, moving the smoke generating device up and down all of the exterior walls. watch for where the smoke gets disturbed and fill in cracks and crevices with caulk. you will be surprised at how many places are either being infiltrated by cold air or leaking warmth out. There is a very chap flexible rope caulk that is a bit like child's modelling clay, but pre-formed into long tubular strings and coiled one on another to make a sort of hockey puck looking thing. This works great and for larger gaps, you can use expanding foam. Take your time and go slow enough so that the smoke rises straight up when there are no leaks. Minute disturbances in the air will become visible using this technique and sealing any cracks will stop heat loss and cold infiltration economically. Next, do the inside walls. you may be shocked at how many voids in the walls are acting like chimneys for heat to escape into the attic, or out the roof. Another thing that is cheap and easy is to wait for frost, or a light dusting of snow and visually inspect the roof. This is best done right at dawn. Wherever the snow melts first if from heat leaking up and out of the house. The places that need better air sealing or insulation will be plainly evident because they will melt first. Also make sure to inspect the place where the ceiling of the basement meets the outer wall. This is called the sill box and by insulating and air sealing this space, not only will your floors feel warmer, but cold dense air will be prevented from getting in. The less air you have to heat the better and these three things, air sealing, insulation and making sure the sill box is sealed and insulated can reduce your heat bill and the carbon footprint of your home by 30%. Just one year of doing these three things would allow you to save enough to send ECO-Tours a few hundred dollars.