Contact Us

Send Message

Subscribe to our RSS Feed Articles & Tips

How Heat Loss and Gain Can Compromise Your Savings

You may have the most efficient heating and air conditioning systems on the market, but you'll still spend more money than necessary keeping your Chicago area home comfortable if you don't take steps to control heat loss and gain. Even the most energy-efficient homes lose some heat on cold days and take in heat on hot days; in fact, your home would probably have serious indoor air quality issues if it was completed sealed from the outdoor environment. But most homes have a lot of room for improvement when it comes saving money on energy bills. Following are three main areas of your house to focus on as you look for ways to improve its comfort and energy efficiency:

Seal Air Leaks

Air leaking directly into or out of your house accounts for a big percentage of your heat loss and gain. You may not even be aware of these leaks, but they can have the same effect as leaving a window wide open 24 hours a day. Sealing leaks can be one of the best investments you can make to reduce your utility bills. If you're handy with basic tools, you can do most of the work yourself. Here are some places to check for leaks:

  • Windows and doors. Get your hand wet and hold it around your window frames and door frames to feel for drafts. Caulking around frames and weatherstripping to seal places where moving parts come together can reduce a lot of air leakage. You can also install storm windows or temporary plastic sheeting to cut heat transfer from windows.
  • Plumbing and electrical openings. You may have air leaks anywhere you have pipes or wiring enter your house or go through your ceiling. Caulk or expanding foam insulation can seal these areas. Check for leaks around light fixtures or other openings in your ceiling. Insulating behind electric receptacle plates can reduce air leaks from inside cold walls.

Upgrade Insulation 

Look to your attic for the easiest place to upgrade insulation for big energy savings. The U.S. Department of Energy recommends that homes in the Chicago area have attic insulation thick enough to provide an insulating value up to R-60. Here are a few things to keep in mind as you plan your insulation upgrade project:

  • Consider fire safety. Do not cover recessed lighting fixtures with insulation, or use flammable materials near the chimney or furnace flue.
  • Seal air leaks first. Be sure the tops of stud walls are covered. Seal leaks around chimneys, plumbing stacks and other openings in the ceiling. Add weatherstripping around the attic access hatch or door.
  • Keep attic ventilated. Use baffles to keep insulation from blocking soffit vents. Provide adequate ventilation with soffit vents, ridge vents and gable vents to prevent excessive heat buildup in summer and to control humidity in winter.
  • Install a radiant barrier. A sprayed-on or stapled-on radiant barrier installed beneath the roof decking can reflect incoming solar heat on hot days and reflect attic heat back into the house on cold days.
  • Add insulation. Un-faced fiberglass batts or blown-in cellulose can be added on top of existing insulation to bring your R-value up to your desired level. Be sure insulate the attic access hatch, too.

Repair your Ductwork

Heat loss and gain from defective or aging ductwork can represent a sizable portion of your monthly utility bills. Properly installed and maintained ducts should deliver almost all of your conditioned air to rooms in your home and then return the same air to the system without drawing in air from the outside or from potentially hazardous areas such as your garage or utility room. Here are some things to look for:

  • Ducts should be sealed. Ducts that have come loose at connections or that were not sealed well upon installation should be joined with screws or clamps and sealed with mastic sealant or metal tape, not the gray "duct tape" you can get at your local supermarket.
  • Flexible ducts should not restrict airflow. Flexible duct material is inexpensive and easy to install, but it can be damaged easily when used in tight corners or when it's not well supported. Kinked ducts should be straightened or replaced.
  • Some ducts need insulation. Ducts that run through unconditioned spaces such as your garage or attic should be insulated to minimize heat gain and loss via conduction.

Call us at Comfort24-7.comfor more tips on reducing heat loss and gain in your Chicago area home.

You may have the most efficient heating and air conditioning systems on the market, but you'll still spend more money than necessary keeping your Chicago area home comfortable if you don't take steps to control heat loss and gain. Even the most energy-efficient homes lose some heat on cold days and take in heat on hot days; in fact, your home would probably have serious indoor air quality issues if it was completed sealed from the outdoor environment. But most homes have a lot of room for improvement when it comes saving money on energy bills. Following are three main areas of your house to focus on as you look for ways to improve its comfort and energy efficiency:

Seal Air Leaks

Air leaking directly into or out of your house accounts for a big percentage of your heat loss and gain. You may not even be aware of these leaks, but they can have the same effect as leaving a window wide open 24 hours a day. Sealing leaks can be one of the best investments you can make to reduce your utility bills. If you're handy with basic tools, you can do most of the work yourself. Here are some places to check for leaks:

  • Windows and doors. Get your hand wet and hold it around your window frames and door frames to feel for drafts. Caulking around frames and weatherstripping to seal places where moving parts come together can reduce a lot of air leakage. You can also install storm windows or temporary plastic sheeting to cut heat transfer from windows.
  • Plumbing and electrical openings. You may have air leaks anywhere you have pipes or wiring enter your house or go through your ceiling. Caulk or expanding foam insulation can seal these areas. Check for leaks around light fixtures or other openings in your ceiling. Insulating behind electric receptacle plates can reduce air leaks from inside cold walls.

Upgrade Insulation 

Look to your attic for the easiest place to upgrade insulation for big energy savings. The U.S. Department of Energy recommends that homes in the Chicago area have attic insulation thick enough to provide an insulating value up to R-60. Here are a few things to keep in mind as you plan your insulation upgrade project:

  • Consider fire safety. Do not cover recessed lighting fixtures with insulation, or use flammable materials near the chimney or furnace flue.
  • Seal air leaks first. Be sure the tops of stud walls are covered. Seal leaks around chimneys, plumbing stacks and other openings in the ceiling. Add weatherstripping around the attic access hatch or door.
  • Keep attic ventilated. Use baffles to keep insulation from blocking soffit vents. Provide adequate ventilation with soffit vents, ridge vents and gable vents to prevent excessive heat buildup in summer and to control humidity in winter.
  • Install a radiant barrier. A sprayed-on or stapled-on radiant barrier installed beneath the roof decking can reflect incoming solar heat on hot days and reflect attic heat back into the house on cold days.
  • Add insulation. Un-faced fiberglass batts or blown-in cellulose can be added on top of existing insulation to bring your R-value up to your desired level. Be sure insulate the attic access hatch, too.

Repair your Ductwork

Heat loss and gain from defective or aging ductwork can represent a sizable portion of your monthly utility bills. Properly installed and maintained ducts should deliver almost all of your conditioned air to rooms in your home and then return the same air to the system without drawing in air from the outside or from potentially hazardous areas such as your garage or utility room. Here are some things to look for:

  • Ducts should be sealed. Ducts that have come loose at connections or that were not sealed well upon installation should be joined with screws or clamps and sealed with mastic sealant or metal tape, not the gray "duct tape" you can get at your local supermarket.
  • Flexible ducts should not restrict airflow. Flexible duct material is inexpensive and easy to install, but it can be damaged easily when used in tight corners or when it's not well supported. Kinked ducts should be straightened or replaced.
  • Some ducts need insulation. Ducts that run through unconditioned spaces such as your garage or attic should be insulated to minimize heat gain and loss via conduction.

Call us at Comfort24-7.com for more tips on reducing heat loss and gain in your Chicago area home.

Back to Articles