Winter weather brings many issues with our home comfort. For example, cold temperatures mean cold or drafty homes. Plus, in New England, our temperature fluxuations produce uneven temps throughout our homes. As a result, many homeowners incorrectly believe blankets and space heaters solve these problems.
However, our homes do not need to be uncomfortable!
Through properly identifying the root causes of home discomfort, homeowners implement reliable solutions. Plus, these solutions help save money on those pesky monthly utility bills!
And the way to understand the root causes remains the home energy audit. Any worthwhile audit includes some level of field testing. Field testing during energy audits include some, or all, of the following:
- Blower door testing of the home (to test the home’s air tightness)
- Ambient CO Testing (to test the air in the home for Carbon Monoxide levels)
- Gas Leak Testing (to test natural and propane gas piping for leaks)
- Worst Case Depressurization Testing (to test for proper chimney operation)
- Spillage Testing (to test for proper chimney operation)
- Heating Appliance CO Testing (to test appliances for normal operation)
- Oven Testing (to test ovens and stovetops for normal operation)
- Duct Blaster Testing (to test ducts for air leaks)
- Pressure Diagnostic Testing (testing for pressure variations in the home)
Ultimately, high-quality energy audits provide homeowners a detailed analysis of your main energy. Quality audits produce a prioritized list of recommendations. As a result, the recommendations resolve the homeowner’s energy efficiency and comfort concerns.
Winter Weather Means Drafty Homes
During the winter months, many families experience discomfort, along with excessive heating costs. And the main culprit?
Drafty rooms and windows!
Therefore, homeowners need drafty home solutions that improve and raise home comfort levels. To help, please find a list of the contributing factors behind drafts.
Excessive Air Leakage
Winter weather means cold temperatures. As a result, the air inside of our homes is much warmer than air outside of our homes. Warm air rises and finds unsealed holes between the house and the attic. Unfortunately, homeowners lose this warm air to Mother Nature and the outside. Additionally, cold air from outside then enters your home to replace the warm air that was lost!
The continually exchange of warm air rising into the attic and leaving, while being replaced by cold winter weather remains a primary driver behind for cold, drafty homes.
Insufficient Insulation Levels
Most homes simply do not contain sufficient insulation. And insulation is the primary barrier (along with air sealing) that retains the heat in your home from escaping.
Most homes don’t have enough insulation, especially older homes. There is a minimum amount of insulation levels required by building codes. However, many times this just isn’t enough and creates drafty areas, energy loss, increased utility bills, and an overall uncomfortable home.
You may ask yourself what kind of insulation does my home need? Where do I need it most?
SolvIt is here to answer all of your questions and we even provide a FREE quote and estimate, finding the correct areas and type(s) of insulation your home would benefit from most.
Poor Heating System Distribution
Frequently, homes waste heat from furnaces because it is lost due to leaks in the HVAC ductwork.
Homes contain a series of ducts (or tunnels), which circulates air throughout the house. The ducts circulate warm air in the winter and cold air in the summer. Ductwork must be well-sealed, insulated, and balanced to ensure your home’s heating and cooling systems work as efficiently as possible. Most homes have leaky ductwork and insufficient air flow, which results in an uncomfortable living environment — regardless of the thermostat setting.
A properly sealed duct system makes your home more comfortable, energy efficient, and delivers cleaner air.
Winter Weather Means A Cold Upstairs
Do you rely on blankets and space heaters upstairs?
Since warm air rises, the warmer air in the home naturally rises from the first floor up to the second floor. For homes that have lower temperatures on the 2nd floor in winter, other factors must cause the uncomfortable conditions on the upper floor of the home.
For example, these homes either have too much heat loss on the second floor or too little heat supply from the furnace (or both). Since increasing the heat supply to the second floor increases heating costs reducing heat loss remains the best options. To improve comfort upstairs, the solution remains simple in concept, yet difficult to accomplish.
- First, identify air leakage through holes, cracks and other gaps.
- Second, seal all gaps.
- Third, add insulation (wherever possible).
Although this sounds straightforward, comprehensive air sealing and adding insulation remains challenging. For example, some homes contain second story knee walls and/or multiple attics. After air sealing as much as possible, increase insulation in:
- exterior walls.
- floors over unheated spaces.
- knee walls.
Following proper insulation, test the upstairs windows for air leakage. Many widows yield excessive air leakage around the window unit (between the window itself and the rough opening of the house framing). This gap around windows is almost always very leaky and a source for air to enter or exit the home in the wintertime.
Many times, properly air sealing and insulating homes corrects the uncomfortable home conditions. However, if the second story remains cold, consider adding an additional heat supply.
Winter Weather Means Uneven Home Temperatures
Winter weather brings uneven temperatures to many homes. For example, some rooms are warmer than desired, while other rooms are colder. There are several factors that produce uneven temperatures from room to room. Generally, temperature variations derive from:
- excessive air leakage.
- poor insulation levels.
- high levels of solar radiation through large glass exposures.
- incorrectly sized ductwork or large amounts of duct leakage.
Any or all of these problems can be contributing to the uneven temperatures from room to room within your home. To help minimize temperature swings within homes, generally homeowners follow the standard process of air sealing, insulation and adding capacity (if needed).
Seal Your Home & Air Ducts
Prioritize eliminating air leakage through holes, gaps and penetrations wherever possible. If not, heated or cooled air in our homes escape through these holes and leaves your home. In most homes, seal the connections between the house and the attic and between the house and the crawl space. Sealing your ductwork supplies and returns provides similar results as sealing the home.
Check & Update the HVAC Ductwork
As a part of your comprehensive air sealing efforts, make sure your duct system is balanced properly. Balancing a duct system adjusts the amount of air from your heating or cooling system delivered throughout your home. For example, larger rooms with higher heating/cooling loads need more supply air than smaller rooms. If the amount of air delivered to each room by your heating/cooling system is wrong, temperatures fluctuate.
Insulate Your Home and Ductworks
As noted, insulation follows proper air sealing. Keep in mind, insulation should always be installed to be continuous and to the proper thickness. Additionally, insulate uninsulated ducts in unconditioned spaces like in attics or crawl spaces. This ensures the heated air from your heating system (or the cool air from your air conditioning system) remains at the proper supply air temperature.
SolvIt Helps Reduce Winter Weather Homes Issues
Don’t hire a “Blow and Go” insulation company!
Insulation works best when air is not moving around or through it. This is why we recommend air sealing leaks prior to installing insulation.
Plus, according to the DOE, proper air sealing and insulation reduces your home’s energy costs by as much as 30%!
However, homeowners only receive minimal improvements when adding insulation without initially air sealing. For example, in most homes we service, we see insulation that was improperly installed or not installed at all in some areas. It is very common for us to see little to no insulation in the attic. You can go to your attic and look around; if you can see your ceiling joists, you need additional insulation!
SolvIt works with homeowners to identify and fix home discomfort. If you and your family experience any discomfort in any of the rooms in your house, then give SolvIt a call and schedule an energy audit today!