Who doesn’t want a more energy-efficient home?
Two major components of that—at least where we live—include controlling air leakage and proper ventilation.
Let’s take a deeper look at both so you can take steps to keep your cooling and heating costs as low as possible.
What to Know About Air Leakage
Our homes have lots of openings that aren’t exactly something we see all the time. Even if we are aware they are there, those cracks and openings are allowing air to enter and leave the house.
We’d never want to rely on those opening for our ventilation; but at the same time, there are enough openings to make air leakage a potential problem in our homes. One of the most common signs for air leakage is issues can be moisture problems. Over time, moisture can lead to structural problems in a home or building and it can impact its ability to be safe.
Since air leakage isn’t always a bad thing, the idea is that we want to minimize the leakage to the extent that it won’t allow for too much air to go in and out of the home. In other words, you want to be able to reduce your air leakage so that you have control over ventilation and so that you have a good idea that the ventilation is benefiting your home and indoor air quality.
So how can we help you detect air leaks in your home?
The key is looking at every single area in which two different materials meet in your home or building. That includes the exterior of the home, where your siding and chimney meet, and inspecting the foundation of your home.
Of course this includes vents and fans, but this also can include:
- Electrical outlets
- Corners of the home
- Walls and celling
- Windows and window frames
- Hatches (1)
Sealing Your Home Properly
The great thing about a pressurization test is the ability to get accurate results regarding cracks and leaks in a building. Then we can take the necessarily steps to add barriers where needed. That can include sealing holes and seams with materials including drywall, sheathing, caulk tape, foam sealants (on larger gaps), house wrap, by adding insulation, and more.
What else can you do? Be sure to pay attention to spots that look unusual in your ceiling pant or on your carpet or floor. These can be leading indicators that you have air leaks and that you may need to caulk them, or handle appropriately. When you can, replace older or single-pane windows with more energy-efficient windows, too (1).
Ask us if you’re interested in hearing more about an air sealing strategy and/or energy audit for your building.
Ventilation: Why It’s Critical for Your Home
When you’re home has the ideal amount of air leaks, just enough air can enter and leave the home. If it’s too airtight, indoor air pollutants can be trapped in. Whether your home does or does not have an ideal amount of air leaks, ventilation is of upmost important.
Ventilation is another critical part of dealing with moisture in the home. Put simply, ventilation is the second part you need to consider for having an energy-efficient home.
The Ideal Ventilation: Here’s the Science
The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers has determined that a home can actually have an ideal or optimal ventilation rate. The calculation may not be the easiest but here’s a look at. According to energy.gov, what you’ll need to know if you want to have some fun with the math:
- Your conditioned space floor area
- The number of bedrooms
Multiply the conditioned space floor area by .03. Separately, multiply the number of bedrooms + one by 7.5. Then you will take the prior number, plus the new number.
So here’s the formula written out: Ideal ventilation = 0.03A + 7.5 (# bedrooms + 1)
Ventilation for cooling is going to be the most energy-efficient way to keep your house cool; at the same time, it’s going to keep your house not just cool, but comfortable because of the indoor air quality that can result.
Let’s take a look at two ways we can find proper ventilation in the home.
#1: Natural Ventilation
Natural ventilation is just what it sounds like: relying on a natural way of air movement to better control air flow in the home.
The idea is one you make sure air is properly sealed in the home, then ventilation takes over! On a day to day basis, this can include opening a window or door intentionally or just as tend to do throughout the day.
The downside of natural ventilation is clear: while it can make a big difference, it’s not necessarily controlled or even in nature. It also may not be reliant or consistent enough for long-term pollutant removal (1, 2).
#2: Whole-House Ventilation
We don’t live in a region where it’s optimal to rely on natural ventilation. Natural ventilation helps, but we have a great deal of pollution, humidity, and other factors throughout the seasons that make whole-house ventilation more ideal in our region.
Whole house ventilations usually fit into one of these categories:
- Exhaust ventilation systems. These are simple and inexpensive in most cases,
- Supply ventilation systems. These pressurize the building in order to provide ventilation.
- Balanced ventilation systems. These introduce balanced quantities of air types to a building.
- Energy recovery ventilation systems. These have controlled ventilation where heat from inside air is exhausted to the fresh air.
The aim with these types of systems is just want it sounds like: to have more uniformity and control over the entire home. For larger homes, rather than relying on natural ventilation, this is usually the way to go.
Greater Comfort Is Here To Help You
Our goal is to help make sure your system runs efficiently. We know that part of your comfort is also about indoor air quality! We want to help you prevent problems and surprises down the road related to temperature control and moisture buildup.