How to Cut Costs for Heating Bills this Winter
As if the coronavirus didn’t just bring health problems when it suddenly entered our lives, the effects stretched much further into jobs and salaries of millions of Americans who have lost their jobs and struggle to make ends meet. With winter looming around the corner, it is understandable that many families are concerned about how they will get through this period.
2020: Worst year for the world (arguable)
At the time of writing (30 September 2020), the US has recorded more than 52 coronavirus deaths per 100,000 people, more than 7 million people in the U.S. have been infected with the coronavirus and more than 200,000 have died. While the rate may not be the highest in the world they do still paint a very grim picture.
Now lets look at the how this has affected employment; the Labor Department showed that nearly 18 million Americans were employed, and that 1.2 million made first time claims for employment benefit, note that there were already 30 millions claiming unemployment benefits before this. Lets take a look at this graph;
Fig. 1: Country Graph Comparison of how Fast COVID-19 spread in the U.S.
As you can see, the rate of infection the United States far outpace the other countries and until a vaccine is found the trend will not likely level off anytime too. Even if a vaccine is made, other problems occur from products, delivery, the strength of the vaccine and how will governments deal with those who refuse to take the vaccine?
On this next graph you can see how this has affected the job market;
Fig.2: Unemployment Data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics - May 7, 2020
Since the second half of march, those on unemployment benefits have sky rocketed to unprecedented levels.
What does this mean for you?
Even if you are one of the lucky ones not to be affected financially by the coronavirus you will still see some form of increase in heating bills this winter and we have the solution to bring costs down and give you total return on investment within 2-3 years.
A thermal camera. A tool that can show heat signatures by absorbing infrared radiation emitted from hot objects and converted it into a visible image that can be interpreted by the user.
How will a thermal camera save you money and get you a return on investment in 2-3 years?
Every year energy bills raise due to increase in demands and inflation costs, this part is unavoidable. The other factors which lead to increase in costs is deterioration of important insulation in the following areas;
Hot air rises seeking higher ground. As it goes up though, heat could be thrown out needlessly in poorly insulated buildings. In effect, cold air from the outside sneaks in putting your heater to go hyperdrive. Bumping costs in the process.
- Crawl space
It’s easy to dismiss the crawl space as not part of the building envelope. Without proper insulation, this often-forgotten portion of your house can be another energy vampire with a tremendous appetite for heat loss.
This is especially true if you live in a slab house complete with a crawl space. Chances are you will notice the floor getting cold and your feet getting even colder as December comes. Poor insulation in this space results in energy loss.
Putting an encapsulation system should get you going. If not, your crawl space can be a magnet for vapor and moisture, a dangerous formula for the cold to come in.
You could look at the chimney as a huge lift this winter. It allows you to heat things up. But the fact that it sends heat energy out can be counterproductive. Unknowingly for you, it could be a great source of energy loss in your home.
Surprise, surprise. Gaps and cracks in the frames of these useful apertures can easily rid your building of much-coveted heat energy.
Know that the ability of a thermal camera to save you tons of money may be unprecedented this time of the year. Right off the bat, the coldness of winter offers the most opportune time to show those precious energy. Draining you of precious dollars. Beyond this, with the skills you may gain from doing home inspection to fixing the issues, you can very well start doing side jobs for friends. Family and neighbors.
You see, more often than not, your home could be under insulated, full of holes that allow precious heat energy from the inside to be lost to the freezing cold outside in these months leading to Christmas. What that means is if you can plug these holes you could be in a better position to save precious dollars.
To date, millions of American homes get a failing mark when it comes to proper insulation. Data shows:
- 90% of American homes are under-insulated (USA Insulation)
- The colder winter months could translate to a $635 average increase in heating costs per household (US Energy Information)
The bad news is under insulation is an energy vampire that can give your monthly bills to add up. As you crank up the heat, a substantial amount you spent on keeping you warm this winter could go up in smokes.
Its the same for business owners
Business operate throughout the year and are not shielded from raising energy bills nor degrading insulation.
The question is: What would you do if there was a way for you to save 5% to 10% of your business overhead costs across the year?
Come to think of it, it doesn’t matter whether you’re a business owner or homeowner. You’d be surprised how much money you could save taking care of energy loss in the form of drafts, damps, and gaps in your building premises.
To stop all that bleeding, you need to stop the guessing game. The longer it takes for you to zero in on them, the higher the costs.
Fortunately for you, you don’t have to bend over backward to make things happen. Winter 2020 offers no better time to plug all these holes. In spite of the coronavirus advance.
5 Methods You can Save Money with a Thermal Camera this Winter
So why this winter? What makes it such a wonderful time to save some? To soften all the misery around you.
A little math should help us. As the sweater weather puts the mercury down, the biting cold - averaging 33.2 °F (0.7 °C) - ensues all throughout America. In the process, the temperature difference between outdoors and indoors widens. All that greater gap makes heat loss more pronounced, allowing a thermal camera to better isolate untoward heat signatures.
In short, winter offers the most opportune time to get an energy audit thanks to thermography. And get your house in order. Here’s how:
1. Free the roof from unwanted heat loss
Imagine how wide an area of coverage you’d face just to check your rooftop for heat loss. You’re facing an uphill climb - not to mention a death-defying scenario. Yup, even professional repairmen have met accidents on the roof upon making the rounds checking. So the longer it takes for you to zero in on those under-insulated portions of your roof while up there, the greater your risk.
In this case, a lesson in thermodynamics should help us. Heat travels to cooler portions in your building, which means heat travels up to the roof. Called the ‘chimney effect’ or ‘stack effect’, warmer air becomes less dense and therefore more buoyant making it rise.
Naturally, when the insulation in the attic of your house is poor, heat loss follows escaping through the roof and through air gaps and attic vents. Proper insulation puts to a minimum unnecessary wastage.
Now, all that heat transfer can be caught red-handed via a thermal camera. Even better, when it comes to revealing energy holes in your building, winter offers a better job than summer.
2. Minimize water infiltration in the basement
Water is good but water in the wrong places in your building is bad news. Uncontrollable surges of water can leave a tale of destruction indoors leaving you in utter disgust, damaging your drywall, framing carpets, and baseboards. In the basement, undue water infiltration left on its devices results in molds and mildew, posing serious risks to everyone’s health.
Good thing water registers cooler temperatures against its surroundings in the basement to an infrared camera. Colder heat signature turn-out could signal an untimely plumbing leak or the presence of water runoff. In the process, alerting you where your attention should be.
3. Minimize unnecessary heat loss in your windows
It’s true. Windows are a major culprit in your building’s heat loss. Worse, the older a window gets, the greater the chances it’s letting heat through. Devoid of a thermal barrier, the side of a glass panel window can with ease slip precious warm air through. Raising your energy bill more.
Thermal imaging technology can come in handy for both old and new windows during the cold of winter. In older windows, a thermal camera can point out the presence of heat loss; in newer windows, it can act as a litmus test showing weak spots that need immediate attention.
Even better, your energy audit can include places around a window. Air gaps can easily manifest with a thermal camera on hand.
4. Put sneaky molds to rest
Winter is also best in finding cold spots in your walls. While water can also accumulate inside vertical partitions in the building any time of year, it doesn’t stay trapped in-wall as long as the chilly months of winter. Take note though that the more time water stays, the greater the chances of molds.
Though reactions to it vary from one person to the next, the proliferation of mold can induce ugly results (allergic reactions), among which:
- Skin rash
- Runny nose
- Red eyes
- Shortness of breath
- Asthma attacks
What’s astounding is you won’t have to waste time and effort to locate molds. A thermal camera can lock in on cold spots in your walls or under the floor, an obvious clue where molds are.
5. Containing ice dams that corrupt ceilings.
Those ice dams along the sides of your roof can certainly throw your most cherished home into a winter wonderland. But beware those dropping icicles; these are actually a sign your house insulation is crying out for help.
When the air rises during winter due to poor insulation warming the roof in the process, the heated envelope melts accumulating snow during the day. However, as the night passes, temperatures go down again freezing the melted snow (water) once again. Forming ice dams.
As magical as ice dams may look, it’s actually destroying your home from the inside. How? Ice dams disturb the proper disposal of water from the roof. Dark spots spotted along your ceiling’s edges are more likely than not caused by ice dams.
Good thing a thermal camera can come into the rescue. Finding cold spots, a telltale sign of dampness, is a breeze when you look into the eyes of a handy infrared imaging camera.
Even better, you can make money out of it. When your house inspection skills are in place, you could start a home inspection business. Energy audits can give your income a substantial bump for the better. And you’re turning pro.
Indeed, these days aren’t exactly what we have in mind to greet us in the days leading to Christmas. Taking a page from great minds ahead of us should bid us well. While we may not be able to control the weather or for that matter the virus, we can control our responses to all the misery.
And with all that’s at stake, thermography offers a glorious opportunity for you to overcome this darkest of winter and save some. Instead of wasting all your energy complaining, light things up by letting a thermal camera out.