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The most effective (and affordable) way to improve energy efficiency and comfort in your home is by air sealing all of the accessible air leaks in your building envelope. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, completing air sealing saves the average homeowner 15% on their heating and cooling costs!
Attic Air Sealing
The costliest source of air leaks, both in the winter and the summer, is between the attic and the inside of the home. It is estimated that up to 40% of heat lost in an average home is through the ceiling, which is why the best first step to improve comfort and energy efficiency is to take the time to thuroughly go through the attic to find all the gaps, cracks, and holes and seal them. In addition to small holes we seal with spray foam, often there are large openings over lowered ceilings above kitchen cabinets or showers that need to first be covered with rigid board and then sealed.
Common Points of Air Leakage
Even though every home is unique, there many common points that are present in nearly every home we see. If your home has any of the following features it is likely experiencing high amounts of air leakage.
- Recessed can lights are a very significant source of heat loss in the winter and heat gain in the summer. Covering these cans with insulated and sealed covers is a critical step toward air sealing a home.
- Many attic access doors and pull down stairs are not properly sealed or insulated and can be improved. We usually improve accesses by building a sealed box with a lid over the access, but there are other options.
- Fireplaces and chimneys are always a point of air leakage when present in a home. We can seal around the hearth and chimney and will sometimes recommend replacing the damper to ensure a better seal when your fireplace is not in use.
- Dropped soffits or ceilings, which are most commonly found over kitchen cabinets and showers, are usually left uninsulated and unsealed creating a large thermal bypass for heated air to escape your home in the winter and for hot outside air to enter your home in the summer. We usually seal these areas off from the attic with foamboard before adding the proper amount of insulation over top to create a uniform air and thermal barrier.
- Whole house attic fans are a convenient way to cool a home if used properly, but are huge points of air leakage when they are not being used. If you have one in your home, you are likely losing a lot of heat through the fan during the winter. We usually cover these fans with an insulated box and lid similar to the attic access pull down stairs, but we usually recommend removing the fan altogether since they are not ideal for our humid climate.
- Pet doors can be one of the largest singular points of air leakage in a home. Although they are great and convenient for your pet, they are bad for energy efficiency.
These are just a few of the many places that air leakage can occur in your home. Energy Reduction Specialists will use our knowledge and technology to ensure that every leakage point in your home is sealed effectively and that no point is missed.
We have proof from Duke Energy of something we already knew -- your energy upgrades to our home through the Better Buildings incentive program have been successful. Over the past 12 months, our home was rated among the most efficient homes in our area. Energy Reduction Specialists of NC, inc.
Stewart and Barbara T., Greensboro