The amount of snow most of the US has received is crazy! Even more is coming, and while this is quite the burden, it does provide one easy and free opportunity to assess your home's insulation quality. You can do this audit yourself (as long as snow is on the ground). Fnd out how after the jump!
If you step outside your house, check out your roof and compare it to your neighbor's. Is there a lot of snow on the roof, none at all, or is it spotty in places? While your first instinct may be to think that no snow on your roof is good, it's actually not! Unless you have a steep or metal covered roof, no snow means your house's insulation is lacking.
Insulation's primary purpose is to slow the transfer of heat. So if your roof is fully blanketed with snow then your roof/attic insulation is doing it's job — well done! But if it's not, then it means that heat is escaping either through your attic or roof, and instead of staying in your house it's melting the snow on the roof. This is problematic for a couple of primary reasons:
1 Inadequate Insulation The insulation levels in the roof or attic are inadequate. If the snow is melted evenly, then it means you need to beef up the insulation levels in your attic or roof, and consider air-sealing as well. If the snow is spotty, then it likely means the insulation has failed in a particular area, has fallen out, or was never installed in the first place. It's possible to remedy this on your own, or you can hire a professional to perform a whole house audit and install insulation throughout where needed.
2 Ice Dams The melting snow will turn into water, run down the slope of the roof, and when it hits the roof overhangs (eaves) it will freeze and cause ice daming. This heavy weight of the ice can damage the structure of your roof, gutters and downspouts.
So if it's snowy in your area, find some good in this weather and perform your own energy audit... then go back inside and stay warm!
(Image: Flickr member jenny downing licensed for use under Creative Commons)