weatherization year round activity hanahan

Weatherization is a Year-Round Activity in Hanahan

February 20, 2015

Whether your home is older or newer, the tried-and-true formula for maximizing year-round comfort and energy savings are sealing air pockets and insulating your walls, ceilings, furnace and HVAC units. Read on to learn how practical DIY home efficiency upgrades can boost comfort and energy savings in your North Carolina home.

Weatherize Structures

Seal and insulate to prevent against heat gain and heat loss in the home occur through air leaks and hot/cold spots in the home shell.  Weatherization is key for the fixtures and structure (attic, walls, windows, doors and floor) that separate the living spaces from un-airconditioned spaces and outdoors. Minimizing heat gain/loss issues is the recipe for comfort and savings in any home. Sealing and insulation are the ingredients, which work together to help block heat gain in the summer and heat loss in the winter.

Hot and cold spots in the home shell are present when insulation is not, or if insulation is inadequate or damaged. A thermal imaging scan of your home reveals insulation deficiencies in walls, which are typically difficult to measure visually, and in the attic and roof.

Energy Star recommends insulation levels of R-49 to R-60 in the attic for our Hanahan area. The “R” stands for R-value, and it indicates the level of heat resistance for building materials. R-49 will be about 15 inches. You should have at least this amount, if not more, for greatest efficiency and comfort. Exterior walls typically should be insulated to R-15 to R-21. Your HVAC professional can measure and determine if your home’s walls are adequately insulated.

Buttoning up the home may seem simple enough, but a substantial percentage of homes across the country are wasting energy every day through the home shell, according to the federal Energy Star program. So, understanding why and how sealing and insulation help comfort and the pocketbook is key.

Weatherize Indoor Living Spaces

Balanced and smooth airflow through the living spaces is very important to prevent gain or loss of heat or cool air. The primary source for this area of effective maintenance of energy is determined by a correctly sized and designed HVAC system. The more effectively a home is sealed and insulated, the lower the cooling/heating load. This may allow you to reduce the size of replacement heating and cooling systems when upgrading.

In fact, the performance of all HVAC systems are substantially affected by heat gain/loss through the home shell. For example:

  • Large sun-facing windows may allow excessive heat gain into the home during the summer, whether by direct sunlight, air leaks or both. You may begin to wonder if your A/C is working correctly.
  • During the heating season, excessive heat loss through the same leaky and expansive windows will prompt quick-cycling of your furnace or heat pump, which wastes energy and disturbs home serenity.
  • If there isn’t enough insulation in the attic, or if the attic hatch hasn’t been properly sealed up, you can forget about low heating bills.
  • Humidity is more difficult to manage when air is leaking into the home, which means indoor air quality is affected by heat gain/loss, too.
  • Air leaks allow contaminants from the unconditioned spaces to infiltrate the living spaces.
  • Do you park a car in an attached garage? If the garage is not well sealed, odds are you have traces of auto emissions in your home, as well as other chemicals and contaminants from other garage-stored items. So, indoor air quality is affected by air leaks, too.

Weatherize With Professional Help

Detecting air leaks is best performed by your HVAC contractor. Special equipment is used to depressurize (or pressurize) the home, which pulls outside air in through gaps and leaks in the home shell. The home’s exterior is assessed for leakage. Common areas for air leaks include gaps around piping, basement windows, siding, and shared walls and ceiling of an attached garage.

If you desire, you may conduct a search for air leaks and drafts around windows and doors with a  smoke pencil. When the direction of the rising smoke wavers, you have found an air leak. However, the do-it-yourself method isn’t as effective for finding hidden leaks in the attic around lighting, piping and wall cavities.

Sealing air leaks should be performed before adding insulation to the attic and walls. The basic tools include weatherstripping, caulk, spray foam, and gaskets for wall switch plates. Weatherstripping and caulk are available in an assortment of materials and colors to better suit aesthetics and the intended application.

Contact the experts at Berkeley Heating & Air Conditioning for more information about weatherizing your beautiful Hanahan home.

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