5 Ways to Reduce Your Home Energy Cost

The 5 Main Ways Your Home Loses Heat and Cooling

infrared thermography of a home
Computer-color coded infrared thermography of house. Brighter colors represent areas of heat losses. Alfred Pasieka/Photolibrary/Getty Images

Do you want to reduce energy costs in your home? Seems like costs are always increasing. Fighting the battle to reduce energy consumption takes vigilance. Energy efficient appliances like DOE 2015 compliant water heaters and high AFUE furnaces are great but there are things you can do to reduce energy consumption for a lot less money than new equipment.

Whether it's summer or winter, energy constantly moves through the walls, roof and cracks of your house.

Either cool air conditioned air is lost to the outside during the summer or cold winter air is finding its way into your home during the winter.

Where does a home lose the most heat energy every day? Well you can generally categorize it into five areas:

No, these are not all the same in terms of their contribution to heat loss. Heat is lost to infiltration and air loss by over 3 times the amount it is lost due to ceilings. These categories generally stack up this way in terms of % heat loss in a home:

  • Infiltration / Air Leakage: 35%
  • Windows and Doors: 18%-20%
  • Floors and Below Grade Space: 15%-18%
  • Walls: 12%-14%
  • Ceilings: 10%

Hmmm... If you were to get ready for winter your inclination would be to buy insulation wouldn't it? Well it's not the best investment (although always a good thing). Reducing your air leaks is your best investment.

Openings around plumbing vents, wall electrical outlets and switches, recessed lights exposed to the attic, attic stairs, vertical plumbing stacks open in the basement and other culprits all allow heated air to be drawn from your home and escape out the roof or other openings.

Bottom Line?
Focus on buttoning up your home to air infiltration and leakage first including windows and doors, then focus on investing on insulation.

Also, considering insulating the attic first. Although less heat is lost there than the walls, it is much less expensive to insulate the attic than the walls.

Do It Yourself Home Energy Audit
Here is a great source of information on doing an energy audit on your home and finding ways to improve the energy efficiency of your house. This comprehensive checklist provides you a way to evaluate your home and identify and prioritize potential energy efficiency upgrades.