Many people realize that their home could benefit from more insulation, or better insulation in Grand Rapids or the surrounding areas. But have you heard of the “Golden Key” to reducing draftiness and improving energy efficiency? It’s actually air sealing, which, in combination with insulating to the proper R-value, has been shown to save up to 20% on heating and cooling costs.
How does air sealing work? Due to the “stack effect,” warmer air rises in the home. The “building envelope,” which is the separation between the exterior and interior portions of your home, is meant to contain the warmer air during cold months. However, any perforations in the building envelope cause a vacuum effect, which will draw the warm air up and out of your living space, in turn causing draftiness. By sealing any leaks in the building envelope, between the interior and the exterior of the home, you can greatly reduce the vacuum effect in your home.
How do you determine where your home’s leaks are? A home typically requires air sealing around any ceiling penetrations and roof penetrations to minimize the stack effect. After that, windows, doors, and other more obvious culprits should also be inspected and addressed. In most cases, the best way to determine where your air leaks are is to have a professional home performance evaluation, which will also address insulation and indoor air quality. You can also do your own sleuthing to evaluate the most common locations of air leaks, such as attic access panels, can lights, bathroom fans, dryer vents, chimneys, and the like.
What does air sealing involve? Once you find the leaks, methods for air sealing often involve either caulking or weather stripping. Caulking is used for static areas that don’t move, such as window and door frames. Weather stripping is used on areas that do move, such as windows and doors. You can hire a professional to effectively seal those areas as well as your rim joists, ductwork, and other more complicated areas.
Apart from energy efficiency, a few other benefits of air sealing should not be overlooked. A tighter home is more resistant to pests, dust, and debris entering from outside the home, which helps keep the home cleaner, drier, and more resistant to allergens. In combination with proper ventilation, air sealing allows you to better control your indoor air quality.
The Department of Energy (DOE) provides extensive information about the benefits of and best practices for air sealing, or check out further information about the benefits of air sealing from GreenFIT Homes. Any time you’re planning to insulate or renovate, it’s a great time to evaluate your air sealing as well, and request a home performance audit to maximize your investment in energy efficiency. Contact GreenFIT Homes and arrange for a performance audit today.
Photo: Chris Peters