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Four Ways to Tell if a House is Energy Smart

home energy efficiency graph

In an April 2021 column, Peter Tertzakian wrote about how Canadian homeowners will soon receive subsidies to make their homes more energy-efficient. While the USA does not have the same carbon taxes as in Tertzakian’s province of Alberta, that line of thinking is still valid when it comes to homeowners in the lower 48.

These same considerations are part of shopping for a new home as well. What can you look for to make sure you will not be hemorrhaging money on heating and air conditioning bills if you move into that new house?

Here are four things to look for when evaluating a home’s energy consumption.

  1. Are the Windows Double-Paned?

If old, single-paned windows are in the house, then those windows – and their surrounding window frames – are probably letting a lot of warmth pass through. Replacement windows, especially those that are double-paned, will keep cooled-off rooms cooler in the summer, and keep heated room toastier in the winter. Windows can let a huge amount of heat pass through, particularly those older models. Some houses in Cincinnati still have the same windows they had in the 1950s, believe it or not. In those cases, the house is most certainly drafty all winter.

  1. Does the Ceiling Drywall Feel Hot?

This is a great way to tell if the attic is well-insulated. If the drywall of the ceiling feels hot during the summer, then insulation is missing. Hardware stores sell heat sensing guns, too, if you want to take specific readings of those ceiling temperatures.

  1. Do the AC Vents Have Streaks Next to Them?

If there are dust streaks next to the vents, then those ducts are leaking. If those ducts are leaking, then the house is wasting a lot of its treated air.

  1. Are Some Rooms Much Hotter or Colder Than Others?

These big heat differentials also indicate leaking ducts, or ducts that were improperly installed to begin with. It also may mean that the insulation is inconsistent throughout the house. Homes should be somewhat uniform in temperature, if the HVAC is working right.