Although it is face-numbing to endure an extended cold snap of -20 C or more (more than -4 F), that we’ve had for several weeks so far this winter, it is a great opportunity to seek and seal the energy leaks in your home because the 40-degree difference between the outside and inside temperatures (about 22 C or 72F) is so extreme that they’re easier to find. If you find and seal them now, your air conditioner won’t have to be on as often, or as long because there will be less hot air getting into your home.
Here are five new energy leaks I discovered in the cold snap:
1. The dryer at ground level:
It was always colder around the dryer because of the direct vent to the exterior wall. The flimsy plastic flap door lets the cold air into the dryer, and then into the house. It was not noticeable until the clothes that had dried overnight were frozen stiff the next morning. That got my attention. I located a very cold draft coming from underneath the dryer, and placed a door draft stopper in front. It fitted perfectly, and it blocked about 90% of the draft coming into the room. The laundry room is a lot more comfortable, now.
2. The deck door threshold:
The kitchen’s deck door is not used in the winter, but at ground level the area was cold even though there was no draft. When I put my hand on the aluminum threshold, it was frigid. That was the source of the cold. I wanted a temporary discreet insulator that could be removed in summer, and found a section of the wooden door frame. It fitted perfectly on top of the threshold, and now the area around the deck door is about 80% warmer.
3. Daylight through the exterior door seal:
The area around the exterior door was noticeably cold, and when viewed at ground level, daylight was visible through a bolt-head sized hole. I sealed the hole, and also filled in the gaps between the floor and the door -- specifically under the door frame. While there, I noticed the grout between the floor and the door had deteriorated over time, so I took the opportunity to restore the seal there, too. Now, the area around the door is as warm as the rest of the house.
4. Plants warm the air from the window by 6C (43F)
I noticed the area around the plants in front of the window was warmer than windows without plants. I checked the temperature, and the plants warmed the air by 6C (43F)! Their temperature regulating feature also applies in the summer when they cool the air before entering the room. All year round, plants help to reduce heating and cooling costs while providing aesthetic and health benefits.
5. Keep the garage door open to a minimum
Most houses have a direct access into the house from a garage that is likely not insulated. This means it is about the same temperature as the outside. By limiting the time that the garage door is open to let the cold air into the garage will reduce the cold air coming into the house. Try raising the garage door with the remote when starting the car, and lowering it when on the driveway. Likewise, when driving into the garage, open it when on the driveway, and close it when turning off the engine. These small changes will reduce the amount of direct cold air that comes into the house via the garage.
In addition, any room that is above, or next to the garage will benefit from insulating and dry- walling the garage walls and ceiling, and also the garage door itself. Although my garage is insulated and warmer than the outside temperature by 12C, I notice the difference in temperature when stepping barefoot into the closet from the hall because the closet extends into the garage.
Remember to wrap any exposed water pipes at the same time.
Your heating bills will be lower as a result of your efforts, but also your air conditioner bills in the summer because it won’t have to work as hard and for as long to keep your home cool. These measures can also be applied to your workplace.
Although I’m very aware about energy conservation, I am always surprised by how many more ways of conserving energy are still to be discovered.