Are Your Ready for the Next Arctic Blast?

Weather forecasters have made predictions that the mercury will be plunging again soon. But frostbite within 10 minutes of being outdoors probably won’t happen again for quite a while.

Just about every state in the United States was affected by our record-breaking winter cold snap in decades during the first week of January 2014. You may be wondering how to not only keep your home warm but keep those heating bills lower too as the forecasters predict another cold front later this month.

The polar vortex or the Arctic air that broke off from its usual domain of the Arctic and Canada is not expected to push down into southern states again this time. But many got a wake-up call about their home’s energy efficiency.

It is becoming increasingly more important as weather extremes in both directions seem to be the new normal. What can you do about it? Start with a home energy audit to find drafts, which are often located in gaps along the baseboard of the flooring and the junctures where walls and ceilings meet. Outside the home, the places to inspect are holes or cracks in the mortar, siding, or foundation, and the doors and windows.

Definitely look for a certified energy auditor, which most heating and air conditioning companies can supply. Also, check with your local utility provider in case they offer discounted home energy audits or even free ones. They’ll also need you to provide the past year’s fuel bills.

They’ll be looking for how your house uses energy and locating the inefficiencies. The audit will consist of two parts: A home energy assessment and a computerized data analysis.

Before green-lighting the company, you should check to see if the inspector is using the following pieces of equipment that are integral to a proper energy inspection:

  • An infrared camera that will help assess air leakage
  • Blower door that helps find leaks and creates a 20-mile-per-hour wind after it has depressurized a house helping to determine how well the air sealing worked
  • Manometer to test how well appliances that have exhaust devices are functioning
  • Combustion analyzer to test flue gases in appliances with vented combustion and measure temperature and for carbon monoxide
  • A draft gauge that tests for any chimney drafts
  • Moisture meter that can detect the amount of moisture in materials and wood
  • Smoke-generating device for discovering where ducts may be leaking air.

The thorough exterior and interior inspections and subsequent repair work may seem like a lot of work, but the rewards in cost savings and better health could make it well worth it.  Once a few or all of the energy efficiency projects have been completed, it’s possible to save between 5 to 30 percent on your monthly energy bill. And on average, most homes leak the equivalent of a medium-sized window being open 24/7.

How concerned are you about your home’s energy efficiency? How was your recent polar vortex experience?

It definitely warranted one of my grandmother’s quilts and a woolen blanket on top of that. And I live in Texas!

Let us know in the comments if you are planning any energy audits of your home to improve energy efficiency after the recent winter storm.

Martha Gail-Moore is a web content manager and copywriter. In the interest of sparking the best collaborations possible, she keeps it fun and, therefore, calls her business Playfulworks. She’s interested in children, art, and healthcare for everyone.