An Energy Waster Not Often Considered. And It's An Easy Fix!

Home Inspector with Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC 3380-000723

An energy waster not often considered.   And it's an easy fix!

There are rules of thumb in energy wasting, and conversely energy saving.

Your house can be divided into different areas of energy wasting.  And these percentages are rules of thumb:

~ About 30% of your energy is wasted through the upper-level ceiling.
~ About 30% of your energy is wasted through the walls.
~ About 30% of your energy is wasted through the windows and doors.
~ And about 10% of your energy is wasted through wall penetrations like receptacles and switches.

Keep in mind, if the upper-level ceiling was not insulated or really poorly insulated it would account for more than the 30% rule of thumb.  The same would go for the walls or windows and doors.

Remember, heat seeks cold.

In the winter indoor heated air is trying, yes trying, to escape!

And in the summer outdoor heated air is trying to get inside!

It is the last item above, wall penetrations, which probably do not get enough attention by homeowners.  Receptacles and switches on exterior walls, and gas fireplaces, can be huge energy wasters.

Collectively exterior wall penetrations are assigned about 10% of any home energy loss.  That could be more depending on how the areas around them are treated with insulation. 

The thermal image above demonstrates that this one receptacle is showing how poor insulation affects the receptacle.  And that is a basement wall, with foundation wall insulation behind the receptacle!

During cold weather it is easiest to determine how well or poorly insulated wall penetrations are.  Put your hand at the receptacle and see if you can feel air blowing in.  Often it is dramatic.

What to do?

Foam draft stoppers can be purchased which will fit virtually any wall receptacle or switch.  What you need to punch out is already outlined, and it will fit inside the receptacle and work on any draft.

And they work!  On my exterior walls I have them doubled up in receptacles and switches.  The draft that comes through the penetration is virtually stopped.

My recommendation:  sometimes it is the little things which make a big difference.  And energy savings is one thing that can be improved dramatically with attention paid to many little things.  Insulation can always be added to.  Draft stoppers can be installed for little money.  Very old windows and doors can be replaced with new, more-efficient units.  All of this adds up over time to equal improved comfort and standard of living!



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Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC  

Based in Bristow, serving all of Northern Virginia.

Office (703) 330-6388   Cell (703) 585-7560


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Andrew Mooers | 207.532.6573
Northern Maine Real Estate-Aroostook County Broker

Energy wasting is also driven by the home owner, occupants too. For that teenage daughter who wants a 40 minute shower twice a day, put in a car wash token taker. Hang her the shower tokens for the week with a smile. Consumption, leaving the thermostat cranked to 90 thinking it heats up a place quicker or a lot of other wasteful habits stops when looking over the energy bills and developing new habits! Good points on dodging the draft, air loss holes every outlet every eight feet in new construction can cause.

Nov 16, 2016 07:30 PM #1
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

Like I said, Andrew, the little things add up to make a big difference.

Nov 16, 2016 07:32 PM #2
Barbara Todaro
RE/MAX Executive Realty - Franklin, MA
"Franklin MA Homes"

Good morning, Jay Markanich I need foam draft stoppers in my receptacles and you just reminded me...  thanks, Jay....

Nov 16, 2016 07:44 PM #3
Sally K. & David L. Hanson
Keller Williams 414-525-0563 - Brookfield, WI
WI Realtors - Luxury - Divorce - Short Sale

The cold finds a way in....and smart hoeowners have found ways to keep it out...!

Nov 16, 2016 07:59 PM #4
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

Barbara - Amazon has a pack of 26 for $6.99.

S&D - the smarter the better.  This is one area many people never consider.

Nov 16, 2016 08:14 PM #5
Nina Hollander
RE/MAX Executive | Charlotte, NC - Charlotte, NC
Your Charlotte/Ballantyne/Waxhaw/Fort Mill Realtor

Great reminders, Jay, that small and not overly expensive actions can provide a good payback.

Nov 16, 2016 08:52 PM #6
Sandy Padula and Norm Padula, JD, GRI
Realty One Group - Carlsbad, CA
Presence, Persistence & Perseverance

Great reminder, Jay Markanich and I have used those insulators in homes when I lived in colder climates. Guess they could be as effective to save on cooling bills too!

Nov 16, 2016 09:36 PM #7
Wayne Martin
Wayne M Martin - Chicago, IL
Real Estate Broker

Good morning Jay.. Great tips for those considering new construction too! Enjoy your day!

Nov 16, 2016 09:53 PM #8
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

Doing this would be a permanent payback, Nina.

Year round S&N.  Energy is something that is used all year.

In new construction they try to seal the boxes from behind with foams, Wayne.  That works too.  But the inserts are even then a good idea.

Nov 16, 2016 10:54 PM #9
Stephen Weakley
Nationwide Mortgage Services - Rockville, MD

My next project now that temps are low is to re-insulate the attic.  I need to upgrade the insulation to at least R-38 for Maryland weather.  Right?

Nov 17, 2016 02:55 AM #10
Lyn Sims
RE/MAX Suburban - Schaumburg, IL
Schaumburg IL Area Real Estate

Nothing like having your switches frost over in the winter. It's an easy fix as you say.

Nov 17, 2016 07:14 AM #11
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

Stephen - R-38 would be the minimum Energy Star standard for MD.  More is always better than less.

Lyn - gee, does it get cold there?  I have to say, I've never seen a switch frost over!

Nov 17, 2016 07:42 AM #12
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