Hall of Shame

In this section we bring you an array of images from the field, showing the kinds of issues encountered by home performance professionals in real homes. Each tells a story of how hidden (but fixable) problems in homes can cause high energy bills.

Missing insulation

Missing wall insulation next to and below a window. Source: Home Energy magazine (September/October 2008)

Heat loss through studs

Heat losses short-circuit through uninsulated areas where wall framing sits. Source: Home Energy magazine (May/June 2009)

Heat loss through door sill

Heat losses short-circuit a highly conductive aluminum door sill. Source: Home Energy magazine (May/June 2009)

Infrared image of a wall; the blue at the top of the wall indicates the settling of insulation and consequent heat loss.

Loosely installed wall insulation settles over time, causing heat losses. Source: Home Energy magazine (January/February 2010)

A roof with snow only at the edges and extreme iciciles.

Absence of snow shows lack of attic insulation. Meltwater has refrozen at the cold exterior eaves, creating an ice dam (and telltale icicles), that will eventually cause serious roof damage. Source: Home Energy magazine (DIY section, homeenergy.org)

A roof with extremely large icicles.

Severe rooftop ice-damming due to excessive heat loss through ceiling. Souce: Home Energy magazine (January/February 2010)

Gap between duct and return

The opening for the grill of the return duct is not directly connected to the duct opening. Instead it is open to the wall cavity and the garage (not seen) behind. Source: Home Energy magazine (DIY section, homeenergy.org)

Eaves

Carpenters left off the topmost exterior sheathing board inside the eaves. Source: Home Energy magazine (May/June 2009)

Poorly installed vapor barrier

Badly installed vapor barrier lets warm air escape and allows moisture into the attic. Source: Home Energy magazine (January/February 2010)

Shower insulation

Water pipe left on the cold side of insulation behind a shower results in heat loss before the water hits the showerhead, and risk of pipe bursts in wintertime. Source: Home Energy magazine (DIY section, homeenergy.org)

Loose duct tape

Loose duct tape on a return duct in a basement leaves a sizeable hole for unconditioned air and dust to enter the forced air system. Source: Home Energy magazine (DIY section, homeenergy.org)

Gap between duct and register

A boot that is separated by nearly 3 inches from the floor of the room that it is meant to deliver conditioned air. Source: Home Energy magazine (DIY section, homeenergy.org)