Heat Loss in Your Home: Long-Term Solutions Reduce Carbon Emissions

Reader Contribution by Ruth Barton

The most recent figures reveal that the U.S. releases the most CO2 emissions in the world after China. Texas is the most polluting state, with 2011 figures stating that their annual CO2 emissions total a significant 656 million metric tons, despite California having a larger population than Texas.

The U.S. has already increased efforts to improve their carbon footprint and to become a more environmentally friendly country, with figures revealing that the nation’s carbon dioxide emissions from energy fell 12 percent between 2005 and 2012. However, 2013 figures showed that U.S. carbon-dioxide emissions from energy sources increased back up by 2 percent. Although this means that energy related carbon emissions are still 10 per cent below 2005 levels, which is a significant improvement, efforts need to be increased further in order to make the nation more green. President Obama has already set a goal of achieving 17 per cent below 2005 levels by 2020.

In order to reach this goal, more needs to be done to improve the efficiency of U.S. homes. A 2011 study revealed that the average U.S household’s carbon footprint was as much as 48 tons per year with 13 tons being from housing. According to Flir, heat loss can account for up to 50% of total energy consumption in a building with causes ranging from air leakage through chimneys, attics, windows and through lack of insulation.

Using a Thermal Imaging Camera

A thermal imaging camera can be used to detect just how much energy is lost from a home, highlighting the most problematic areas where energy is being lost. For example, there is a new program that has started in Connecticut in which a car with a thermal imaging camera goes around towns and captures pictures of individual homes to see how efficient they are. The program is helping residents to become more energy efficient as when homeowners log in to the company website, they are able to see a thermal imaging photograph of their home. There is no obligation for them to do anything but there is an option for home owners to choose to get a home energy assessment for less than $100.

Not only is the energy that is being lost through housing harmful to our environment, but also to household’s wallets. Many U.S. citizens are overspending on energy bills because they are either losing heat or struggling to keep their home cool because their homes are so poorly insulated. Many people are put off insulating their home, because they associate these solutions with high costs. However, what people need to realise is that in the long term, insulating a home will save homeowners a significant amount of money and is a worthwhile investment. Below are just a few long term solutions to insulate a home that homeowners should consider in order to save money and reduce their carbon footprint.

Wall Insulation

According to figures, roughly 33 percent of energy and heat is lost through walls. Therefore, getting cavity wall insulation is one of the most cost effective energy saving measures that homeowners can carry out. This is supported by research that has found that every square meter of cavity wall insulation will save more than a tonne of CO2 over the average lifetime of a building.

Loft and Roof Insulation

It is also very important to insulate the roof and loft of a home as up to quarter of a home’s heat can be lost through the roof. Loft and roof insulation is certainly a worthwhile investment because it is low cost and can last up to 40 years and will repeatedly pay for itself during that time.

Triple Glazing

Double or triple glazing is a great way to trap any energy in and reduce the amount being lost into the atmosphere. Although double or triple glazing can be a little more pricey solution (especially triple glazing which is up to 30-40% more expensive than double glazing), when compared with loft insulation for example, many consider it to be worth the extra expense. Not only will it reduce the amount of air leaking out of the home, but will also will increase security levels of a home and the amount of outside noise.

Underfloor Heating

Underfloor heating has become an increasingly popular choice to improve efficiency of homes. Roughly 8 per cent of heat is lost through floors. Underfloor heating is essentially like having a giant radiator under the floor, creating extreme levels of comfort whilst at the same time significantly contributes to reducing household’s carbon footprint. Obviously investing in an underfloor heating system will depend on where about homeowners live in the U.S. – but for those that live in colder states, it is certainly an investment worth considering. RA Brown a company that specializes in underfloor heating and Ground Source Heat Pumps in Suffolk explains how an underfloor system is eco-friendly – it can depend on natural energy sources and doesn’t emit any harmful gases. And whilst the initial cost of installation may be a high, the running costs are very low.

If more U.S. citizens implemented some of these long-term solutions to improve the efficiency of their homes, we could see a dramatic reduction in the amount of CO2 emissions released by the nation. And for those where the initial costs of installing some of these long term insulation solutions may be too high, in the long term it is worth the investment and will save homeowners money over time. Plus there are funding schemes available to help homeowners pay for insulation solutions.

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