I’ve been there before. It’s 3 p.m. on a cold Friday afternoon in January. You get a no-heat call from a client who has small children or an elderly family member, and you come rushing to the rescue. You change out the furnace in the allotted time, maybe you even upgrade their old furnace to a new 95 percent condensing type, and all is well in the heating world. Yet, you have to ask yourself, did I feel significant drafts in the basement, by the doors, or near the windows? Did I notice all the major areas of heat loss that caused the snow to melt off the roof prematurely? For calls like this, I get it. In an emergency situation, clients usually agree to address their emergency need and worry about tightening the building envelope later. However, when time allows, good practice these days should go much deeper.
As global warming continues to play games with our climates, making the outdoor temperature minus 2?F one day and 68? the next, we should take what we know about heating design and go back to the drawing board. Adding more heat to a space to correct a heat loss issue may not be the correct course of action.