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The Boonstra Blog

How Your Home Loses Heat

mother and son trying to stay warm in a cold room at home

Winter is officially upon us, which means that your furnace is working hard to keep your family warm and comfortable. You’ve likely already taken steps to prepare your furnace for winter, but creating enough heat to warm your home is only half the battle: you also need to minimize heat loss.

What is Heat Loss?

Heat loss refers to heat that leaks through your walls, roof, foundation, windows, and doors and ends up outside instead of staying inside your home. 

Why Reducing Heat Loss is Important

Heat loss represents wasted energy and money. Your furnace works hard to keep your home warm, so when you have a high heat loss rate, your furnace has to work even harder to keep your home warm. This means your furnace burns more fuel, which, in turn, increases your heating bill.

While a high-efficiency furnace requires less fuel to keep your home warm, heat loss can undermine even the most efficient furnace’s efforts, leaving you cold while your heating bill continues to rise. 

How to Reduce Heat Loss & Conserve Energy

There are several things you can do to reduce your home’s heat loss and conserve energy.

Improve Insulation in Your Walls & Ceiling

Not all insulations are equally efficient. To help you choose the right style of insulation for your home, all insulation products are labelled with an RSI (Résistance Système International) value and an R-value. The R-value is in imperial units, and the RSI value is in metric units. In either case, the higher the value, the more effective the insulation is. 

Higher rated insulation isn’t necessarily thicker, so when comparing different brands or styles of insulation, check the RSI value, not just the thickness.

Insulate Your Floors

Heat loss can also occur through your floors. To minimize floor related heat loss, make sure you have sufficient insulation between the ground and your floor. If your current floor insulation isn’t sufficient, you may need to renovate to install new insulation.

condensation forming on an uninsulated window

Insulate Your Windows & Doors

Improperly insulated windows and doors are a huge source of heat loss. To help minimize heat loss, make sure your glass is double or triple glazed. Double glazed windows feature two panes of glass with a small air gap between them, while triple-glazed windows feature three panes of glass with an air gap between each pane. Glass conducts heat extremely well, which makes it a prime spot for heat loss. The air gaps between each pane act as insulation, slowing or even eliminating heat loss. 

Check for Drafts

While improperly sealed windows and doors are the most common causes of drafts, drafts occur wherever gaps or holes exist in your home’s outer walls. The air in our homes moves in convective loops, which occur naturally because warm air rises and cool air sinks. Though these convective loops typically move quite slowly, significant temperature differentials between cold and warm air currents cause these loops to move more quickly, causing drafts. 

Drafts typically occur for one of two main reasons: Either the air inside the home is cooling too rapidly because of poor insulation or because there are one or more small holes in your home that are letting cold air in.

Drafts caused by holes can be easily fixed using caulking or, in the case of gaps around windows or doors, by applying weatherstripping. However, the only way to fix a draft caused by poor insulation is to replace your insulation.

Many homeowners don’t realize that gaps around lightswitch panels and outlet panels on outer walls can also cause drafts. To find out the source of a draft, use a candle or another source of smoke. Carefully hold the candle close to where you suspect the draft is coming from and watch how the smoke patterns change to find the source of your draft. 

Consider Installing a Heat Pump

Heat pumps work with your furnace and duct system to help move warm air from warmer rooms to cooler rooms and keep all rooms in your home at a comfortable temperature.

Is Your House Still Cold? Check for Other Explanations

If your home is well insulated and doesn’t have any drafts, the culprit may be your furnace. Older models are not particularly efficient and may simply not be up to the task of heating your home effectively. 

Your home may also be cold because your furnace hasn’t been well maintained. You should have your furnace cleaned and inspected at least once per year, and you should be changing your furnace filter at least once every three months. Clogged and dirty filters make it difficult for your furnace to move warm air to your ducts. This means your furnace needs to work harder to heat your home, causing unnecessary wear and tear on its components.

To help keep your family warm and cozy this winter, call the experts at Boonstra Heating & Air Conditioning, Hamilton and area’s choice for heating, air conditioning, and water tanks for over 55 years.

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