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Energy Walk-through Part 3: taking care of leaks

For the past few months, we've been taking a walk and providing tips from over 2,000 energy-efficiency walk-throughs our experts have completed. A business walk-through, that is, focused on easy energy savings for small businesses.

Power Smart's business walk-through program is over, but you can call the Power Smart business help desk for additional help. And we've collected tips from our past walk-throughs to share with you.

In Part 1, our energy experts told us to check our energy assumptions and make sure everything gets turned off – automatically if necessary. Last month in Part 2, we focused on maintenance, with tips about keeping lighting cleaned and HVAC tuned.

This month, we continue the walk, with a focus on stopping warm and cold air from leaking or moving where you don't want it.

Step 5: Mind the gaps

Power Smart experts have noticed that in the Lower Mainland, where it doesn't get really cold in the winter, people often don't notice if they have a little gap in the wall or around a door frame.

Many people will find a quick, easy solution, such as turning up the heat a little or staying away from a cooler area. The trouble is, a lot of energy bleeds out through cracks and gaps, anywhere there's a bit of a draft coming through.

These spots are priority areas for sealing – and sealing properly is key. Our experts have seen people sticking a dishtowel in to cover up a crack, but to really save energy, customers should be using weatherstripping, insulation or really taking some time to seal properly – not just jamming whatever they have in there.

Get more information about how to reduce air leakage from your building and tips specific to your building envelope.

Step 6: Keep your cool: separate warm and cold

Check areas where you have a difference in temperature. If you have any refrigeration equipment, make sure there's separation from any warmer areas of the facility.

That might be a full door, or some type of a curtain, like the PVC strip curtain. Basically, to cut down on energy loss you need some kind of barrier to air traveling back and forth between the two spaces.

Our experts have looked at a lot of grocery stores and convenience stores with open refrigerated cases. There's not too much that can be done to the cases while in operation, since store customers want to be warm and comfortable. But at least at the end of the day, a cover – called a night curtain – can be pulled over them to keep the cases cool and cold air enclosed.

Another challenge businesses face is maintaining the temperature inside their stores when the outdoor temperature is significantly lower or higher. Here, our experts say you can look at more advanced solutions, such as air curtains. They're blowers, basically; linear configured fans that blow a current of air across a doorway and cut off any circulation between the two spaces using a curtain of air. Otherwise, a lot of energy is lost through the heating and cooling of different spaces.

Want to learn more about refrigerator case efficiency, night curtains and air curtains? Be sure to catch the videos in The Energy Fix – especially episodes 2 and 4. And after viewing each video, remember to enter the Energy Fix contest.

In addition, check out our tips on how to operate your fridge, freezer or ice-maker efficiently and keep your refrigeration cool.

Next month: Lighting Tips