People living in colder climates depend on their heating systems when fall and winter arrive. As freezing temperatures test the electrical grids, millions of Northern residents crank the heater to stay warm. Heavy snow and ice also challenge architects when designing homes and buildings.
This tendency affects both humanitarian and sustainability goals — people need dwellings where they can stay comfortable and healthy, and the planet needs us to rely less on fossil fuels as a matter of survival. Fortunately, building performance professionals are using a variety of strategies to seal buildings against the elements.
How can construction professionals prevent energy leaks in buildings?
Closing Holes in the Roof
Holes in the roof are one of the primary contributors to energy leaks in the winter. These openings could be there for many reasons, but they let warm air escape and cold air enter the house. The heater has to work harder, increasing energy bills for a less-efficient home.
Chimneys are a typical culprit for energy leaks coming from the roof. These structures can be useful for heating a house but can also lead to inefficiencies. Checking the flue is one way to ensure the chimney doesn’t become a liability. Closing this duct when the chimney is idle is essential for keeping heat inside. A quality fireplace ash door can be helpful.
Solar panels are an effective way to make a home more sustainable with renewable energy. However, one downside is the installation could lead to holes in the roof. If this happens, constructors should be proactive and seal the gaps around the panels once the installation is complete. The holes are typically tiny and don’t negatively impact the roof’s structural integrity, but they can lead to energy leaks in freezing weather.
Using an Ice Water Shield
The roof is an integral structure to any home — especially its ability to retain heat and prevent energy from escaping. There are various upgrades contractors can implement to make a house more energy efficient. One smart upgrade for homeowners is an ice and water shield. This strategy is effective for companies building homes in areas prone to heavy snow and ice.
Ice and water shields are thin membranes that are waterproof and protect a roof from damage. Ice and snow can build on a roof during the winter. When warm air hits, the snow and ice melt and can cause rot and mold. These water shields go under the roof and prevent water from getting to the roof decking. Companies make water shields from materials such as rubberized asphalt, polypropylene, fiberglass and polyester.
Upgrading the Windows
Another essential part of the house to consider for energy leaks is the windows. These structures can be a significant reason why a home is not retaining heat as it should. One step to improve the energy efficiency of existing windows is to caulk. Sealing the window frames can prevent the warm air from escaping. Older homes with more wear may be more susceptible to cracks in the window frames.
Another option for the windows is to replace the current ones with more energy-efficient ones. Many windows have a single pane, but upgrading to double-pane windows with low emissivity is quite beneficial for buildings. They keep the temperature inside stable year-round and reduce energy consumption. A hidden advantage of these windows is they also insulate from noise, which can be helpful in homes and buildings in busy neighborhoods and cities.
Weatherstripping the Doors
Besides windows, the doors of a home are another way energy can leak. The doors are necessary for entering or exiting any building, but the leaks coming from cracks in entryways have a more significant effect. One way to mitigate this issue is with weatherstripping.
Weatherstripping is an effective way to seal gaps for any moving objects in a house, such as a door. Sealing the doors prevents the warm air from escaping and helps prevent mold and other structural damage. Professionals looking to weatherstrip can utilize numerous options. One of the best materials for this purpose is vinyl — it protects against moisture and is strong enough to last for years.
Sealing the Small Slots
The roof, doors and windows are three primary spots professionals should focus on for energy leaks. However, what about the other lesser-known places? Are there any small spaces that should concern contractors?
Some places people may forget to look are the electrical outlets. The holes are small, but they can still leak air. Warm air can escape gaps even if a professional has sealed the outlet. Foam insulation could be a viable option to shore up these leaks.
Another area susceptible to energy leaking is a doggy door. Dogs need to be able to go inside and outside, even in the wintertime. Sealing the door with a silicone caulk can give homeowners the best of both worlds for their home and dog.
Protecting Buildings From Freezing Weather
Winter can be brutal in much of the world. Snow and ice can wreak havoc on roads, homes and buildings all across cities, leading to an increased usage of heating systems. Leaks in the house from holes, cracks and more can lead to warmer air escaping and higher energy bills. These five strategies can help construction professionals aid their clients with a warmer house this winter.