Heating a home is often a costly endeavor. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, it accounts for an average of 45% of the average home’s yearly energy bills. That makes efficiency and energy conservation a top priority for homeowners here in the greater Atlanta area. The trouble is that two-story homes are notorious for allowing heat losses that thwart energy-saving efforts. There’s hope, though! Here are five ways to prevent heat loss in your two-story home this winter.
1. Air Seal and Insulate Your Walls
The first step in the process of preventing heat loss in your home is to air-seal and insulate your walls. Doing so helps to keep the heat produced by your heating system in the rooms where you need it. It will also help to prevent drafts that will lead to an increased need for costly heating. This is an especially important step if your home is older or hasn’t gone through an energy audit recently.
You can begin by figuring out what — if any — type of insulation is in your walls. In many homes, interior walls have no insulation, and in warmer climates like ours, exterior walls may have minimal insulation. So, beefing up your home’s insulation can go a long way toward preventing heat loss in the winter. Plus, it can help you to contain cooling costs in the summer as well.
After you’ve addressed your home’s insulation, you should also look for any gaps or cracks in your walls. Seal as many of them as you can find because they represent places for heat to escape from your home. Ideally, the only places where air should pass freely between rooms are through open doors or windows. The closer you can get to that ideal, the better.
2. Add Insulation to Your Ceilings
The next thing to do to prevent heat loss in your two-story home is to add additional insulation inside your ceilings. Since heat rises, anything you can do to prevent it from working its way upward inside your home is worthwhile. You can begin with your first-floor ceiling. Here in the Atlanta area, it’s recommended that all ceilings and floors feature insulation with an R-value of at least 25.
In your second-floor ceiling, you’ll want a bit more insulation than that. You’ll want insulation with an R-value between 30 and 60. The higher the R-value, the more heat loss you’ll prevent. That’s because, in the winter, your home’s attic will remain just about as cold as the outside air. Since cold air sinks, this creates something of a blanket that helps keep your warm air in. However, if your insulation’s inadequate, it can’t do that.
If warm air escapes into your attic, you’ll be seeing a massive energy loss. Also, this will make your attic prone to condensation and mold growth. Neither are problems you’ll want to deal with. So, your best bet is to make certain you leave no gaps in your second-floor ceiling insulation. That will make it all but impossible for your heated air to enter your attic.
3. Add Weatherstripping to Exterior Doors
Another place where heat will escape your two-story home is its exterior doors. This happens because exterior doors rarely create perfect seals when closed. There are always small gaps between your doors and their frames. This is where most homes see an average of around 11% of their yearly heat losses.
The good news is that you can minimize that loss by adding some inexpensive weatherstripping to your exterior doors. Weatherstripping is a type of adhesive foam strip that you can install all around the frame of a door. When you close your door, the foam compresses in the gaps to prevent air from passing through. It’s a cheap and effective way to stop a major source of heat loss in your two-story home.
4. Caulk Your Windows
Just like your home’s doors, its windows are another place where heat losses occur. Except, most of the losses have nothing to do with air gaps around your closed windows. Of course, you can also address those with weatherstripping similar to what you used on your exterior doors. However, there’s another common place where heat can escape your home’s windows. It’s in small gaps around the frame of your windows, both inside and outside your home.
To address that, you can use caulk to seal any gaps you find. The trick lies in finding them. Sometimes, gaps around window frames are large enough to make them easy to spot. That’s not always the case, however. To find smaller gaps, you can begin by waiting for a windy day. Then, hold a lit candle near each window, moving it around the perimeter of the frame. If you notice the flame flickering, it’s a sign that air is coming through the window frame at that location.
After you’ve found the gaps, you can run a bead of caulk over them to seal them. It’s important to do this both inside and outside your home. For best results, you should call in some professional help, as the exteriors won’t be easy to reach. When you’re done, you’ll have eliminated yet another big source of heat loss in your home.
5. Seal Gaps Around Plumbing
Last but not least, you’ll want to address any areas of your home where warm air has a chance to evade all of the insulation you’ve installed. One place this often happens is around your home’s pipes where they enter and exit walls. You should look for gaps around the pipes in your kitchen and bathrooms. If you have one, you should also look for any exposed pipes running through your basement. Those are the areas most prone to allowing heat loss.
If you find any gaps, fixing the problem’s relatively simple. You can use a can of expanding spray foam to do the job. Carefully use it to fill in any gaps you find, making sure not to overdo it. The foam will expand into the gaps, sealing them and blocking any further air infiltration.
A Multi-Pronged Approach to Heating Efficiency
If you follow the steps above to reduce your two-story home’s heat loss, you should find that your energy bills noticeably decline. However, preventing heat loss is only one of the ways you can improve your home’s heating efficiency. You can also call on the experts here at Bardi Heating, Cooling & Plumbing to service your home’s heating system. Our technicians can help you make sure your heating system operates at maximum efficiency. Or, they can recommend a newer heating solution like a heat pump or high-efficiency furnace to improve things even more.
Either way, we’ll help you to manage your home’s heating needs in a way that protects your comfort and your wallet. Our team repairs, installs, and maintains both heating and cooling systems, including furnaces, heat pumps, and air conditioners. We can also help you with all your plumbing and indoor air quality needs in Norcross and the surrounding area. So, call us at Bardi Heating, Cooling & Plumbing today to schedule an appointment!