How is Air Sealing Similar to the Zipper on a Jacket?
Stop and think about this for a second...
If you head outside on a cold and windy day chances are you will throw on a jacket.
Lets focus on the jacket for a moment. You have two choices. Zip up or leave it open.
Either way - you are glad you have the jacket - you feel warmer than if you had nothing.
But, if you zip up then you will be "bundled" up. The jacket keeps the warmth in and the cold air out. The system works better.
A key ingredient to making any amount of insulation work much better for your inside environment is to seal up all of the important places where air is likely to infiltrate and exfiltrate - in other words - we need to zip a few things up.
Building Science 101
Air in - Air out
As seen in this figure, warm air rises in a building. This concept is not new. What is important to know is that the warm air that rises, if left unchecked, leaves the house through the gaps in the ceiling.
As the warm air leaves - cold air gets drawn in from down low. That's one reason basements and crawl spaces are so cold in winter.
This pressure set-up inside your home is a conveyor belt of never ending energy waste. As your warm air sneaks out at the top the cold air makes its presence felt in the places you tend to spend time.
The good news is that the problem can be controlled. Air sealing is the solution to stop unwanted "flow" around your home. By sealing the right spots you can have more even temperatures, less draftiness and lower energy bills.
Why guess where your drafts are starting?
Get a blower door test today!
I am convinced my windows are the source of my problems. You are saying less costly fixes are better?
One of the fascinating things I have discovered is that when the temperature drops across the country, I get an unusual number of clicks on my article detailing the 5 reasons your brand new windows are drafty.
Common Problems Due to Lack of Proper Air Sealing
High Energy Bills Despite Taking Some Actions
If you spent a good sum of money to replace old windows or old HVAC and you find yourself still dealing with high energy bills - you are not the only one!
So don't feel bad or lose hope that you can actually have an energy efficient home. You just might have to look in a few other places to get to the real problems.
Soon, you will be the mose efficient neighbor in the hood!
The lower the temperature drops outside the higher the pressure turns inside. There are really a lot of things working against good energy efficiency unless you seal up the right spots.
Windows in a vertical wall are not going to do much for the increased pressure at the ceiling of the top floor.
Poor Overall HVAC Performance
Often times new HVAC energy efficiency promises are not delivered as expected. The law of diminishing returns kicks in and the whole experience could become quite frustrating.
Think about a simple birthday balloon. If your task was to blow up the balloon for the party and you noticed that it had a hole in it would you continue to blow air into the leaky container? No!
Air Sealing Techniques to Bundle Up Your House
Two-Part Spray Foam
Two-part spray foam is a great solution for insulating surfaces that are not easy to reach because it air seals and insulates in one motion. The "spray" helps it can get into hard to reach places.
Decisions to use two-part spray foam should be based on the situation and location of use. Some areas can be treated equally effectively with less costly materials.
Basic Attic Air Sealing
If you don't have air sealing in your attic now then you definitely need air sealing ASAP!
If you are not sure whether your attic is air sealed there are several things you can look for around the house that will tip you off.
The first tell tale sign is spider webs. Another is if you are feeling drafts around your home then you likely need air sealing in your attic and around other key areas of your home.
Proper Treatment Techniques
At first thought it may not seem so obvious that insulation projects require attention to detail and a mastery of several important skills.
Sealing and insulating a building shell requires technicians to work in tight spaces. Crews must be in good physical condition.
Crawl space features in a house are perfect examples of where knowledge and conditioning come into play.
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An Energy Auditor's Purpose
"Energy auditors visit residential buildings and talk to owners and residents. They inspect, test, and measure to decide what energy-efficient retrofits are practical and cost effective." Residential Energy