It seems as if warm air is constantly looking for ways to escape your home during the winter months. While good insulation and weatherized doors and windows can help, other sources of potential air leaks are often overlooked.

In the average home, more than 40% of heat loss occurs through fireplaces, air ducts, and plumbing and electrical access points. Sealing gaps and air leaks in these areas will improve comfort, and the savings will give you a warm feeling when you get your energy bills.

1. Fireplace. Your chimney is an outlet for the warm air generated by your furnace. If your fireplace is not in use, keep the damper closed to prevent any warm air from going up the chimney. Check the seal on the flue damper and make sure that it is as snug as possible. Consider installing tempered glass doors and a heat exchange system that blows warm air back inside.

2. Air ducts. Over time, ductwork can develop leaks, holes, and poor connections. In the areas you can reach, seal all ductwork with mastic or metal tape. Insulate ductwork in unheated areas, such as attics and crawlspaces. If you suspect more serious problems, contact a heating and cooling professional.

3. Plumbing and electrical access. Gaps may occur where electrical lines, plumbing and gas pipes enter your home from the outdoors, typically in the attic or basement. Seal these areas with a do-it-yourself spray foam insulation.

To optimize the efficiency of your heating system and to maximize comfort, make sure your home is properly insulated and the gaps around doors and windows are caulked and sealed. Have your heating system cleaned and inspected annually by a qualified technician. A home energy audit is a great way to ensure that your home is operating as efficiently as possible.