With summer now in full swing, our incredible southern heat and humidity are just getting started. As much as I love the summer, there is a reason we have an air conditioner. However, my efforts to keep my home cooler seem to constantly be under attack by the members of my own household.
Don’t Let the “Bought-Air” Out
I have a large, very active family and multiple pets. There is a lot of in and out, and I find myself saying the usual things like “Don’t leave the door to the garage open,” or “Why didn’t someone shut this window?” I occasionally resort to repeating after my parents, “We’re not trying to cool the whole neighborhood.” And on one exasperating occasion, possibly taken over by the spirit of someone’s grandparents, “Don’t stand with the door open, you’re letting the bought air out.”
I’m not sure what came over me as I uttered that sentence. However, I think most of us are concerned with making sure that the money and energy we are spending to cool our homes is not going to waste. We want to keep that cool conditioned air in and the hot, humid air outside. But according to EPA estimates, the typical home has enough leaks to be equal to having an open window every day of the year.
The first time I read that statistic, I was shocked, but I’m sure I’m not alone in my efforts to keep the “bought air” in. And if that’s worrying, shouldn’t we be addressing the air leakage we can’t see just as much as the ones that we can?
Where Can I Find Air Leaks in My Home?
Air leaks in many overlooked places. Most people are aware of the common ones like windows and doors. But what about all the others? Places like outlets, light fixtures, ducts/vents, and especially recessed light fixtures into the attic space. Anywhere you have a joint or corner, unless there is a seal of some kind, such as caulk or foam, you have a potential air leak.
It turns out that typical homes work a lot like a smokestack or chimney. Hot air rises through the house and may eventually exit through the attic. Attics tend to be hot anyway as the roof deck is rarely insulated. Heat build-up in the attic can also transfer to the rooms below through both convection and conduction. If your second story is more than 2-3 degrees warmer than the first story, this could be why.
According to the Building Performance Institute a house will typically change its air about every 3 hours. It may be hard to imagine, but in very leaky homes, the air may change as often as every 30-60 minutes. That makes holding a steady temperature hard to control therefore making your home uncomfortable. This also causes your HVAC to cycle much more often than it should, putting excess wear and tear on one of the most expensive systems in your home. In air sealing a house, we are trying to slow the air change and stop that chimney effect as much as we can.
Air sealing forms an envelope that, when combined with insulation, creates a space with minimal heat transfer. According to the U.S. Department of Energy for optimal energy efficiency, your home should be insulated from the foundation to the roof. Spray foam and injection foam insulation can create that air seal needed to help stop air leakage. Simultaneously giving your home the insulation required to maintain more even temperatures.
Sealing An Attic Only Solves a Portion of Your Air-Leak Problems
Many people assume that air sealing the attic will solve their problems. However, the attic is only a portion of the issue. With walls being the largest square footage of a house, the air leakage and heat transfer are just as prevalent there as in the attic. Spray foaming the roof deck and air sealing your attic will help. However, to stop the chimney effect and create the air seal for the entire home, the walls and crawl space need to be sealed as well. RetroFoam injection foam insulation is the answer to seal and insulate your existing walls without the hassle of a complete remodel.
Our project managers would love to come out and discuss the needs of your home. Let us help you find out what it will take to make it more comfortable, energy-efficient, and save you money.