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Now that we’re starting to shut our windows and turn up the heat, we automatically begin to think about how to save energy while still staying warm through the winter. Your building’s envelope can have a huge impact on the energy efficiency of your home. You want your envelope to be sealed up tight and insulated so that you’re not wasting precious heat through your walls, windows and doors.

Reconstruction of commercial buildings in Colorado by Metro Reconstruction
External problems with your building envelope can result in higher utility bills. Photo: Metro Reconstruction project for Sportsman’s Warehouse, CO.

The building envelope refers to everything that makes your building a building: walls, floors, roofs, windows, doors, skylights, etc. If your envelope is weak or damaged at any place, heat, light, air or water will escape or travel too freely from one room to another. Or from the inside to the outside. Either way, you’ll see a change in your utility bill if your envelope is not properly intact.

When your walls are not tight, or your windows and doors  not properly sealed or installed it becomes a problem. Hot or cool air could be circling around putting too much pressure on your HVAC systems in an attempt to keep your home at a consistent temperature.

Locate the place where your envelope is weak

The first step is to identify where your envelope is weak and allowing heat to escape. The most vulnerable areas and most common are:

laurel project
Damage to your siding and your roof are common envelope problems due to extreme weather and poor maintenance.

The fault is usually in the initial construction of your building. For severe cases, cracks around your home, both inside and out, are a sign that your envelope is weak. Sometimes you can go around to your windows and doors and feel if there is cool air seeping in from the outside. You may even see the slight flutter of a curtain next to a closed window.

For tiny air leaks, a quick caulking may be all you need, but if the window or door frame has shifted, you’ll need to get them replaced.

When you are going over your fall maintenance checklist, look out for these telltale signs of a weak building envelope. Especially now that we are nearing the colder months of the year. We’re not only trying to save you a buck or two on your utility bills, but we also want you to feel comfortable in your own home.

If your bills have skyrocketed, and you’re constantly adding and removing layers of clothing from room to room, it’s time to inspect your envelope and schedule any maintenance and repairs before it starts to get really cold. Fix the problems now and keep your energy bills down this winter.