The Importance of Air Sealing:
We get a ton of calls about adding insulation to homes, and it is certainly a big factor for comfort and efficiency. However, air sealing is an extremely important component of energy efficiency that is often overlooked. With air sealing, we identify and seal openings in the air barrier of the home. When we talk about an air barrier, we are referring to the “building envelope” – a boundary between conditioned space and unconditioned spaces. The tighter the envelope, the less air is leaking in and out of your home. Generally, the air barriers in a home are the exterior walls, the attic floor, and the ceiling of the basement/crawlspace. All of these locations contain plumbing and electrical penetrations, unsealed recessed/can lights, open chase ways, and open bottom and top plates that all provide pathways for air infiltration and exfiltration.
Air Sealing is Like a Windbreaker for Your House.
Think about it this way…have you ever been out in cool weather with a little wind and put on a sweater or fleece jacket? You may have felt warmer but still felt the wind blowing through. If you couple your sweater or fleece with a wind breaker or shell, you would feel even cozier. Well, think of your house the same way. The insulation is like your sweater, and a properly sealed envelope (or air barrier) is like your wind breaker. When your HVAC system (heating or cooling) turns on, it pulls air into the central return from wherever it can (along paths of least resistance), and heats or cools and dehumidifies the air before it forces it out via the registers into each room. Oftentimes the systems will pull air from your hot (or cold, depending on the season) attic or basement and then work to cool or heat it. Wouldn’t it be less work and take less energy for your HVAC system to heat or cool air that is NOT coming from the outdoors?! Definitely. A tighter home holds more conditioned air, so that your HVAC system has less work to do. Therefore, with proper air sealing, sufficient insulation, and sealed duct work you spend less money on your power bill and stay more comfortable.