With cold winter winds and hot summer days, there is much that can go into keeping your home comfortable through the seasons. Most older homes are susceptible to air leakage — the process of outside air leaking in, and inside air leaking to the outside. This process cannot only make your home feel cold and drafty in the winter, it causes utility costs to rise, as heating and cooling appliances have to work even harder to replace the escaping air. However, there are several simple air sealing and weatherization practices that can keep drafts from breaching the walls of your home.
Air sealing involves many different techniques, but the basic concept remains the same: finding a problem area in your home and stopping the uncontrolled air flow. The benefits of this are not only reduced utility costs and increased home comfort, but also lowering energy consumption. Proper air sealing could save 15 percent on average of your annual heating and cooling costs.
A distinction must be made between air sealing and insulation. Both are aspects of a home’s thermal envelope; or the floors, walls and roofing that make up the exterior of your home’s conditioned spaces. In short, insulation is used to reduce the transfer of heat through the thermal envelope; whereas air sealing is focused on the elimination of airflow through a specific point. This distinction is important when considering whether an issue you may be facing is insulation based or if it can be solved with weatherization.
It is important to note that too little ventilation in a home can increase the risk of the buildup of indoor pollutants.
It never hurts to have a professional opinion when deciding if your home needs weatherization. Professional evaluations usually take the form of an energy audit. For many Eastern Iowa residents, the Green Iowa AmeriCorps offers free energy auditing services.
Next in this series, we will begin to examine different issues that commonly affect homes, starting with two of the biggest offenders; attics and basements.
l Danny Parrish is the marketing coordinator for Green Iowa AmeriCorps, which is coordinated by the University of Northern Iowa’s Center for Energy & Environmental Education. Its goal is to help make Iowans more energy efficient through low-impact home weatherization, energy education and community outreach. Find out more at www.greeniowaamericorps.org.