It is possible to have a great heating system, but still waste heat and energy through heat loss. If there are cracks where heat can leave, or cold can enter a house, these are all places of wasted heat loss. It pays to comb through your home looking for these places of heat and cold vulnerability.
Certain places are more likely to be subject to leaks. These are the fireplace, the clothes dryer, the seals of windows and doors, pipes, and any folding stairway to an attic.
There are leaks of air that come through cracks around the doors, pipes, and windows. For the smaller cracks around doors and windows, weather-stripping and caulk can be used to seal these places. However, there are some really large “cracks” or openings with the fireplace or any stairway that leads to the attic that require different tactics to seal.
Why is the attic stairway a big deal when it comes to preserving heat? It is because when the attic stairway is installed, the insulation and ceiling at the point of installation are removed. All that replaces that is a sheet of plywood that is usually un-insulated. The attic is connected directly to the outside, which means being connected to heat in the summer and cold in the winter. And all that separates it from the livable space below is the uninsulated piece of plywood.
To check how big the gap is at the opening of the attic, turn on the attic light at night and shut the stairway to the attic. See if the light shows through around the edges. An attic stairway cover can be added to the stairway to help stop the leaks. Insulation can also be added.
Fireplaces are another place where energy is lost. If a fireplace is not used, and the damper is left open, the heating expense can be increased by 30%. Energy losses from a fireplace can cost up to $500 more over a heating season. From science, we know that hot air rises, and as it rises and leaves the home, for example, through the fireplace, by the laws of physics the air needs to be replaced, so cold air will be drawn from somewhere, from some opening to the outside.
A solution is to use a draft stopper. This is something that can be put in place when the fireplace is not being used and removed when the fireplace is used… just remember to remove it and place it back when necessary.
Another place where air can leak is at dryer exhaust duct. The exhaust duct of a dryer is connected to the outside. Cold can come in through the exhaust duct. There are different types of vent seals for dryers. Some are not as effective as others. Some get lint stuck in them and this holds the flap partially open. The proper dryer vent seal will reduce the entrance of cold air, and also help keep out pests.
Considering all these different places of cold drafts, and sealing them, will help reduce heating costs in winter.