Enhancing your home’s energy efficiency can seem like a tricky process for many Pacific Northwest homeowners. After all, there are a variety of different directions to go in when choosing home performance upgrades, some of which will likely be more suitable for your home than others. At HomeRx Heating & Air Conditioning, we see firsthand how air sealing can make the biggest difference to the comfort of a home.
Air Sealing: The All-Important Windbreaker
While insulation acts as a sweater for your Oregon or Washington home, a sweater itself is not enough to keep the cold at bay if there is any air movement. Air sealing is the “windbreaker” over the sweater. Here in the Northwest, we know all about layering.
The air sealing process is a matter of locating the holes throughout your home, and even potential holes, and sealing them up. When combined with the right insulation, air sealing makes all the difference in the world in terms of your home’s comfort, heating and cooling bills, indoor air quality (IAQ), and energy efficiency.
Frequently Asked Questions About Air Sealing
FAQ 1: I’ve heard that homes can be sealed too tightly, which can create indoor air pollution and cause moisture build up in the walls and attic. Is that a problem?
Answer: Yes, it can be. There are decades of building science research that have taught our HomeRX team how to do it right, so we do not trap moisture and do allow for drying if moisture finds its way in.
We know how to ventilate to prevent indoor air pollution, how to monitor for gases, and how to locate and eliminate pollution sources. If energy were free and there was no such thing as global warming, we would just put in huge furnaces and leave the windows open all time.
FAQ 2:: Do what? Seal and ventilate? Why do we not just leave well enough alone? My house is old, it was built to breathe, and it is in very healthy condition.
Answer: That is true. Your house may be very healthy. The wood may be in excellent condition in large part because your home has been breathing for the last 100 years. There are a couple problems here—energy is not to be wasted anymore, and the breathing your house does is actually very erratic.
The breathing it does is driven by temperature differences between outside and inside air, so it is most likely overventilating in the winter when the differences are greatest. Summer is not usually an issue in our climate because it is usually not so hot out, so we can open our windows.
So your home is hyperventilating on the coldest days, then not enough at other times. The solution is to seal it up, very carefully so as not to trap moisture, and then to control the ventilation rate mechanically to get the right amount of ventilation all the time.