Family and Consumer Sciences Education: Baby, It’s Cold Outside


   This winter is predicted to be a cold and rough one. With the northeast already receiving the amount of snow they normally receive in a year in less than a month, many are wondering what will the rest of the winter look like. One of the biggest issues with the cold and winter is the cost of heating the home. Below are some tips for reducing heat loss which raises your heating cost.

   Air leakage causes the largest heat loss from a home. Ken Hellevang, North Dakota State University Extension Service engineer, suggests sealing openings in the wall and ceiling to reduce air leakage. Places to check in walls include between the sill plate and foundation, and around windows, pipe penetrations and electrical outlets. Look for openings, feel for a draft or use a lighted stick of incense to check spots for a draft. Use weather stripping or caulking to seal openings.

   Windows with sliding parts typically have higher air leakage than windows that seal by compressing the weather strip. Install plastic over the window to reduce air leakage. Reduce air leakage through doors by installing weather stripping and using a storm door.

   Recessed lighting is the most common location for air leakage through the ceiling. Use approved enclosures or seals for recessed lights.

   Fireplace dampers also should be sealed to reduce air leakage. This can be done with a chimney cap, fireplace plug or draft stopper.

   However, some air exchange is required to remove indoor moisture, odors and pollutants. Use an electronic relative humidity meter or note the amount of condensation on windows. Use ventilation to reduce the humidity level if window condensation runs off the window onto the framing.

   Do not vent a clothes dryer into the home to save energy because this will put excessive amounts of moisture into the air that normally will cause condensation and other moisture problems.

   Adapted from Ellen Crawford and Ken Hellevang with North Dakota State University. For more information visit: