Air Sealing & Insulation
A good place to start if you live in Maryland and you are a BGE or Pepco customer is to get a home energy audit through the Home Performance with ENERGY STAR program. The program is great because it provides you with a comprehensive consultation (audit) so you know exactly what needs to be done to properly tighten your envelope and make the insulation work best for you. The investment is $100 ($400) value and the program pays for the rest.
Don't make the mistake of adding insulation to your attic or any other area of your home without checking for a pressure barrier first. As you will see in some of the information below, insulation does not stop the flow of air.
If you have had an audit previously and you are back in the market for home performance work, we can provide you with a free estimate for the work that you need to have done.
As a MHIC Licensed Contractor we know the law and how to execute contracts that are clearly expressed and where both parties are in full-agreement of the work scope and terms. Our contracts are designed to protect our customers as well as our company and are fair and follow MHIC guidelines.
Whether it is to check existing insulation conditions in a home (typically not included in a home inspection), or to make sure that all connections to the outside are sealed before any finishing work is complete in a new construction project, a certified Building Analyst (BA) can evaluate uncontrolled air leakage into and out of a home and identify heating and cooling problems that lead to high bills and uncomfortable living spaces.
As an Envelope Professional through Building Performance Institute, we have demonstrated the capability of properly prescribing the correct measures to correct the deficiency.
Typical Questions About Home Comfort
I have insulation already, so why doesn't it work?
To understand why it is not as effective, think about a winter jacket...
A Zipper is to Air Sealing
Take a walk outside on a cold, breezy day and leave your jacket open. Air will likely infiltrate and make your jacket less effective and as a result, you won't be as warm as you could be. Pull the zipper shut and you are bundled up.
Same goes for air sealing and insulating. The holes and cracks need to be "zipped up" before the jacket (insulation) can do it's job well.
Regardless of which material and application is used, insulation is not fully effective unless it is properly installed and fully aligned with a contiguous air barrier. Insulation works because it incorporates air pockets that resist the flow of heat, or slows the conduction of heat. This resistance to heat flow is measured by the R-value of the material.
You need both parts of the jacket to make it work the best. The same goes for the insulation around the house.
Insulation & Air Barrier Mis-Alignment
Missing Air Barrier
Most insulation is installed incorrectly due to lacking an air barrier.
As a result of most insulation not having the correct physical characteristics, air flows right through diminishing the overall R-value of the insulation.
A proper air barrier should be addressed for each and every insulation project that you consider. Adding more insulation to a surface this it not tight is a waste of resources.
Aligned Pressure & Thermal Boundary
Installed Air Barrier
Identifying the envelope of your home is the starting place to properly align the pressure and thermal boundary around your home.
How Insulation & Air Sealing Help In Summer
In the summer there are "forces" working against us and our ability to achieve comfort. Heat gain is what is happing inside the house and it is made up of four things that make the temperature rise.
1. Solar Gain - this one is the largest. It accounts for about 50% of the heat building up inside a home. Windows and the roof are the main entry points for solar gain.
2. Internal Gains - these contributors to the up tick in temperature include computers, lighting, appliances and body heat. This accounts for 20% of heat build up indoors.
3. Air Leakage - leakage points around the home allow hot, humid air in and cool conditioned air out. This accounts for 20% of the reason a home gets warmer and needs to use more energy to get cooled down.
4. Heat transmission - heat transmission through the building shell during summer is much less impactful because the temperature variance between the summer indoor/outdoor temperature is less than in winter. This is 10% of the temperature rise.
Compare the healthy attic left with the unhealthy attic on the right.
Thermal image of a ceiling that is missing insulation taken during summer. The heat from the hot attic radiates rapidly into the home if insulation is mis-aligned.
Winter Month Key Measures
Hometrust Remodeling - About Us
Since 2006, our team has conducted over five thousand in-home evaluations for Maryland homeowners including in-depth home energy audits, replacement window consultations and siding estimates.
We are licensed in Maryland and we are certified Building Analysts & Envelope Professionals through the Building Performance Institute so we can evaluate uncontrolled air leakage into and out of a home and identify heating and cooling problems that lead to high bills and uncomfortable living spaces as well as prescribe appropriate measures to fix the uncovered issues.
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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