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Overlooked Sources of Heat Loss in the Home

Submitted by www.batticdoor.com

Air leaks are the biggest source of heating and cooling loss in the home. Imagine leaving a window open all winter long! Well that may be just what is occurring in your home.

Do you know what the 3 largest intentional openings are? The attic stair, the fireplace, and the clothes dryer! 

Attic Stairs:

Do you have a folding attic stairway in your house? These useful devices (also known as folding stairs, ceiling mounted folding attic ladders, and overhead access ladders) provide access into your otherwise inaccessible attic space.

However, when installed, a large hole (approximately 10 square feet!) is created in your ceiling. The ceiling and insulation that were there have to be removed. And what is installed to cover this opening? A thin, unsealed, un-insulated sheet of plywood!

Did you know that your attic space is ventilated directly to the outdoors? In the winter, the attic space can be very cold, and in the summer it can be very hot. And what is separating your conditioned house from your unconditioned attic? That thin sheet of plywood!

Often a gap can be observed around the perimeter of the door. Try this yourself: at night when it is dark, turn on the attic light and shut the attic stairway door - do you see any light coming through? These are gaps - large enough to provide significant air leakage and subsequent heating and cooling loss!

Consider an average folding attic stairway - yours! A standard attic door opening is 25"x 54" or 158" around its perimeter. If the gap averages only 1/8", that is a 19.75 square inch opening into your attic where your heated/cooled air leaks out 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 52 weeks a year! Even a 1/32" average gap around the perimeter of the attic door is equal to a 5 square inch opening! This is like leaving a window open all year round!

Compounding this problem, as attic stairways age the doors don't close as well, the springs weaken and the cracks around the perimeter of the door widen. In addition, the thin plywood door can warp when exposed to the extreme temperatures in the attic. This causes the gaps around the plywood door to open even wider! This creates a chimney effect, causing the transfer of air between the unconditioned attic space (which leads directly outdoors) and the heated/cooled living area of the home, costing the homeowner energy dollars.


65% or approximately 100 million homes in North America are constructed with wood or gas burning fireplaces. Unfortunately there are negative side effects that the fireplace brings to a home especially during the winter home-heating season. Fireplaces are energy losers!

Researchers have studied this to determine the amount of heat loss through a fireplace, and the results are amazing! One remarkable documentation of this is a research study that shows that an open damper on an unused fireplace in a well-insulated house can raise overall heating energy consumption by 30%!

A recent study showed that for many consumers, their heating bills may be more than $500 higher per winter just due to the air leakage and wasted energy caused by fireplaces! 

Why Does a Home With a Fireplace Have Higher Heating Bills? The technical answer to this question is the "stack effect". The stack effect is the movement of air due to convection currents within your house's building envelope. 

In simpler terms - hot air rises! Your heated air leaks out any exit it can find, and when your warm heated air is drawn out of your home, cold outside air is drawn in to make up for it. The fireplace accelerates the normal stack effect, like a giant straw - sucking the heated air from your house.

The greater the difference between the outside and indoor air temperature, the greater the air movement due to the stack effect. For example, if the outdoor air temperature is 15 degrees F (-10 degrees C) and the indoor temperature is 68 degrees F (+20 degrees C), the stack effect of the fireplace chimney would be the same as a 300 CFM bathroom fan running continuously. This is like leaving a large window open all winter long!

Clothes Dryer Exhaust Ducts:

Have you ever noticed that the room containing your clothes dryer is the coldest room in your house? Ever wonder why??

Your clothes dryer is connected to a 4" diameter exhaust duct that is open to the outdoors. In the winter, cold air leaks in through the duct, through your dryer and into your house, while your heated air just pours right out!

Try this yourself - with the dryer off, go outside and feel your heated air leaking out of the dryer vent. This is a substantial energy-loser! 

Many common discharge vents use a sheet metal flapper to try to reduce this air leakage. This is very primitive technology that does not provide a positive seal to stop the air leakage.

Compounding the problem is that over time, lint clogs the flapper valve causing it to stay open. This is like leaving a window open!

Conventional dryer vents can allow hot air into your home during the summer months, and cold air in during the winter. The Solution - Install a Dryer Vent Seal!

A Dryer Vent Seal will reduce unwanted air infiltration, and keep out pests, bees and rodents as well. The vent will remain closed unless the dryer is in use. When the dryer is in use, the floating shuttle underneath the visible hood rises to allow warm air, lint, and moisture to escape. 

We have developed solutions to these and other energy-conservation related issues. For more information please visit our website www.batticdoor.com

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