Although all three forms of heat movement are important, our winter comfort depends, in order of importance, on:
Convection is heat being carried by air or water.
The air in a house is much like the water in a bathtub. When the cold water finally begins to heat up, the water under the faucet is warmer than the rest of the tub. By swirling the water, we spread the heat throughout the tub. When the drain is opened, the heat leaves the tub with the water.
The same thing happens in our home. We send warm air through the supply vents via our central heating system. We want to keep that warm air in the house.
Since most of our homes leak, though, warm air leaves the house through tiny holes, much like the drain in the tub. Cold air replaces the warm air. Our heater keeps running. Our utility bills keep climbing.
Radiation is heat carried on electromagnetic waves. During the winter, heat often radiates from our bodies.
When our bodies are exposed to a cold surface, such as 40 degree window glass, heat radiates (leaves) our body and moves to the cooler surface. Since radiation is always line of sight, staying covered in winter keeps our bodies from "seeing" any cold surfaces. .
Conduction is the passage of heat through an object such as a wall. Anytime we talk about R-value and insulation, we are referring to conduction.
Conduction is far more of an issue in regions that have extreme outside temperatures than DFW. In fact, a very small leak (convection) will transfer far more heat from a house than a poorly insulated wall in our climate.
How do we lower our winter utility bills?
The most important energy improvement we can make to our homes for the winter months is to weatherize. Get out your caulking gun and go to work.
Weatherization is a very inexpensive retrofit (easily do it yourself) that will decrease our winter utility bills (energy use related to heating–not our base energy use) by an average of 31% according to the the U.S. Department of Energy, However, this is a nationwide figure taking into account the cold north so do not expect this in a southern home. Maybe 15% tops.
Do you need an energy consultant, energy auditor, green builder, or green remodeler in North Central Texas or the Dallas-Fort Worth area? Are you purchasing or building a home? Ready to add renewable-energy? Interested in living more sustainably? Contact Terry Jensen Frugal Energy, LLC 972 251-1532 or 817 443-2553 Just have a question or two? Please call. If I can answer without seeing your home or business, I will do so at no charge.
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