WAUSAU (WAOW) -
A cold Wisconsin winter can have you pumping up the heat in your home, and that can mean higher bills. So we wanted to find out where heat escapes your home, and how you can save some cash.
Like Wausau homeowner Chris Beringer, who's trying to save money on her home heating bill.
“I don't think I do a lot,” said Beringer. “But I would say the one thing I do is keep my thermostat low."
But she admits, it's not enough.
“I think there's a lot more I could do," she said.
Home heating experts say some people don't have a clue about how much heat they lose from cracks in windows and walls.
“You can even just go around and feel in your own home on your outside walls, and just the touch test alone you can see the air flow," said Kelly Zagrzebski, the community relations director of Wisconsin Public Service.
But that's just the beginning.
“You know heat rises, and heat usually escapes out of the top through the ceiling in the attics, and it comes in through the bottom such as sill boxes and things like that," said Mike Carson, a home heating rater and owner of Inspect It Right Home Inspections.
He has prepared an inspection test to show us where we're really losing heat and money.
"When we do a home performance test, one of the things we use is what's called a blower door,” said Carson.
It's just a canvas frame with a fan inside the door. The fan brings outside cold air inside the home. Then, he uses a thermal imaging camera to show if that cold air is going through cracks.
“What this shows us is the differences in temperature along surfaces,” said Carson. “Like in our case, outdoor walls things like that so we can diagnose where air leaks things like that."
Red means hot and blue means cold. First, we go to the master bedroom.
“See the blue on the ceiling,” Carson said. “What we know is that what we're seeing are cold spots on the ceiling so in the attic. We know that the attic could use some more insulation."
Then, we go to a closet.
“Here at the top of the window where the trim is is another common area for air leaks," he said.
He says an easy fix is to add caulking to seal the cracks. Carson says these thermal images help when people call insulation contractors.
Now that we've seen the problem spots, we wanted to show Chris what we found in her home.
"I have a feeling you guys found energy is escaping through the house, and I'm thinking my windows and my doors are probably the biggest culprits," said Beringer.
So how does she react when we show her?
"Wow that's crazy," she said.
How much can you save by solving these problems?
“Folks save about 20% annually on heating and cooling costs," said Carson.
Taking a Wausau resident's bill with a three bedroom home, that's a savings of 40 cents a day, or twelve dollars a month.
Other ways to save on your heating bill include cleaning your furnace filter, changing your light bulbs, and turning down your thermostat.
“I'm surprised,” said Beringer. “I mean I wasn't expecting that at all. But you know it makes sense."
She'll be keeping more heat in her home, and more money in her pocket.
We have a lot more energy saving tips and how to get rebates through Wisconsin Public Service. There's even an interactive home--to show you how to save in specific rooms.