Icicles, snow melt on roof may indicate heating leaks

During the winter, cold or drafty rooms may be a harbinger of higher-than-expected home heating bills than those received by a homeowner in previous years. While a home inspection service can perform a thorough investigation of a property to hone in on certain issues regarding energy efficiency, homeowners may be able to confirm for themselves their suspicions about inadequate heating and insulation if they observe the outsides of their homes.

Additional signs that a home may lack energy-efficient insulation include snow melting off the roof of a home, ice collecting in gutters and snow melting near the perimeter of the property. Direct sunlight and warmer temperatures can produce similar effects, but if neither are prevalent and homeowners still observe the same occurrences, they may need to contact a home inspection company to analyze the property.

"If the snow is melted off your roof and not your neighbor's roof, it's pretty much guaranteed you not only have heat escaping from your home due to inadequate insulation, but you also have higher-than-normal utility bills," said USA Insulation president Pat Pitrone.

Insulation experts warn homeowners that older properties are more likely to lack proper insulation since building codes only began requiring insulation during the 1970s.

Homeowners who deploy effective insulation throughout their properties are likely to witness substantial energy savings, since the cost of operating an HVAC comprises more than half of most home energy bills.

A Washington, D.C. home inspector will focus on the areas of the home, usually the attic, windows and doors, that are most likely to compromise a closed living environment through air leaks. After an inspection, a homeowner can decide the type of insulation he or she wants placed in the home, either fiberglass batt or blown-in cellulose, and the locations where such materials would be most effective at reducing air leaks.