Your Home Breathes, Just Like You?

by Anna Scott

Ever wonder why your heat always needs to be on? According to a recent New York Times article, modern homes are designed to “exchange” one third of air every hour, so even a well insulated home will leak heat. Combatting this is a two step process: first, find the source of the heat loss, and second, plug up the leaks.


If you own a pair of thermal imaging goggles, you can easily see where the heat leaves your home. For the rest of us, we’ll rely on some cheap tricks. The author of this article figured out a low cost alternative- incense smoke. He waited for a windy day, then burned an incense stick around windows and doors, the likely locations for where air gets out. The smoke patterns revealed where the air was leaking out.

One free tip from the author’s energy auditing experience: raise your front door’s threshold in the wintertime by turning the screws counter-clockwise, and then lower the threshold in the summer when your door expands. Otherwise, all the experts he talked with recommended weather stripping on doors and windows.

Personally, I weatherproof windows with plastic sheeting and duct tape. It blocks out some of the light, so I only do it on some windows. This video points out that I shouldn’t forget about curtains, and suggests ones that go to the floor.

Winterizing your home or apartment is always an easy way to save on heating, but with impending rate hikes on gas bills (as the Chicago Tribune reported yesterday) that could increase natural gas bills by more than $100 next year, weatherproofing could become even more important.

What do you do to winterize your home?

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About Anna: I’m a senior at the University of Chicago. My major is mathematics, but I spend a lot of my time studying environmental issues like climate change, weather, and energy efficiency. I’m excited to be joining the Power2Swtich team and blogging about energy issues.

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