Environmental Action Team’s November Challenge
The generation of electricity is the second-largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the US, primarily from natural gas and coal-fired plants. How can we stay warm and comfortable in the winter without wasting energy, money, and also reduce our contribution to greenhouse gases? Last week we spoke about lowering your thermostat to 68 degrees while you are at home and dialing the thermostat back 7-10 degrees from its normal setting for eight hours every day (at night or while you’re at work). This week we’ll address heat leaks in your home by infiltration, conduction, and convection.
Up to a third of a typical home’s heat loss occurs through windows and doors. Air can infiltrate into or out of the house through the cracks and gaps inside your home, such as electrical outlets, baseboards, and attic hatches. Seal around these openings to make your home less drafty and keep warm air inside. Caulking leaks can save an average household 10 to 20 percent on annual heating and cooling bills. Weather-stripping your windows and doors can save you an additional 5 to 10 percent annually on heating and cooling bills.
Closing the curtains during the winter helps reduce up to 10% in heat loss from a warm room by reducing conduction. Conduction is the transfer of heat through solid materials like windows, doors, walls, and the ceiling. More layers of material between the inside of your house and the outside like double-pane windows, wall, and ceiling insulation will reduce conduction. If curtains are hung close to the windows, they can help prevent up to one-fourth of that heat loss through convection. Convection is the movement of air by the window that increases conduction. Opening curtains on sunlit windows during the day can help boost temperatures via solar energy radiation. On a cold day, close curtains on windows that don’t get as much sun to reduce conduction.