One of the most important -- but often overlooked -- ways to increase your home’s comfort level and performance is through proper air sealing. Insulation alone is simply not enough. Proper air sealing features two major benefits: an increase in energy efficiency in tandem with an improvement in indoor air quality.
When your outer walls, ceiling, windows, doors, and floors are sealed correctly your home environment becomes a healthier place to live. We are seeing an increasing amount of scientific evidence indicating the air within a home contains more pollutants than air outdoors. With residents spending approximately 90% of their time indoors -- while at home or in an office building -- the risks to health may be greater due to exposure to air pollution indoors than outdoors. Poor ventilation increases these pollutant levels. Air- and duct-sealing team up to complement installed insulation; this combo delivers advanced filtration for optimal health.
Think Comfort, Then Dollars
Indoor air pollutants can cause irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat; headaches; dizziness; fatigue; asthma; and even eventually respiratory disease, cancer, and heart disease. The young, the elderly, and the chronically ill are most susceptible. However, being proactive regarding your indoor air quality will go a long way toward better health for everyone in a home.
In addition, ENERGY STAR estimates a knowledgeable homeowner or skilled contractor can save up to 20% on heating and cooling costs or up to 10% on a total annual energy bill by sealing and insulating. Drafts from air leaks can be alleviated; winter heat loss and summer heat gain can be blocked. Also, remember to choose energy-efficient windows if replacements are done.
How to Determine Your Needs
Many air leaks and drafts are simple to find because they are easy to feel such as those around windows and doors. Holes hidden in attics, basements, and crawlspaces are more difficult and, thus, the big problem. A comprehensive energy audit will scientifically determine how much air leakage exists in your home and the current insulation levels and quality of installation; you will also learn how and where you can improve. Major attic air leaks along with insufficient attic and wall insulation are typically the primary reasons a home is uncomfortable and has high heating and cooling costs.
It’s well worth working with a professional to determine your home’s status and then to properly install all the sealing and insulation needed. The air quality will pay off for your health while the reduced energy bills will keep more money in your pocket.