How Do Homes Lose Heat?

Home heat loss is difficult to pinpoint as it is something you cannot see! So a big question for many homeowners is from which part of the house am I losing the most heat?

Heat flows from hot to cold places. So on a frosty winter day, heat will continue to escape if the thermal envelope is not well sealed and insulated even if heating systems are at full blast.

The most common areas of heat loss in a home

Due to the fact heat rises, one of the most common problem areas in a home is inadequate or under-insulated attic spaces. Luckily, this is one of the easiest and cost effective areas to fix.

The most commons areas of home heating loss occur in the following ways:

  • Rooftop heat loss: heat can escape through air gaps in your roof
  • Attic heat loss: under-insulated attics are a common problem area for energy loss
  • Poor air sealing around doors and windows: make sure you have tight fitting and weather-sealed doors and windows to prevent heat escaping your home
  • Under-insulated crawl space: a lack of underfloor insulation can lead to heat escaping via your crawl space.
A graphical depiction of the common ways homes lose heat
This image displays the most common types of home energy loss

Quick Fact: Air leaks are a significant source of heat loss in a home. In a typical house, all of the holes and gaps can add up to an opening equivalent to a medium-sized window left open 24 hours a day!

So how can homeowners determine where to start?

The building envelope of a home can be thought of as the “shell”. It separates the indoors from the outdoors and consists of doors, windows, walls, roof, and basement or crawlspace.

A well-insulated air-tight building envelope serves to slow down the heat loss such that the mechanical heating system does not have to work as hard. This results in a reduction in energy consumption in addition to lower energy bills.

Image of a fireplace

Photo by Jessica Johnston on Unsplash

To maintain a comfortable and efficient living space, it must effectively control the flow of heat, air, and moisture in and out of the home.

Because many homes do not have a perfectly sealed building envelope, there can always be room for improvement. That’s why a great place to begin discovering areas of high heat loss in a home is to complete a home energy audit!

Related reading: Understanding home energy efficiency

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