From Mr. Green Jeans - Serving All of the Baton Rouge and New Orleans Metropolitan Areas
The most cost effective way to increase the efficiency of your home is through weatherization.
Keeping Your Home Comfortable and Your Costs Reasonable
We expect our homes to be comfortable throughout the year. For Louisiana residents, that usually means focusing on preventing cooling from escaping as heating is usually only an issue during a few weeks of the year.
Not only do we expect our homes to be comfortable year-round, but we also expect our energy bills to be affordable. Unfortunately, chances are good that you’re paying more and more to keep your home at a livable temperature year after year, and the cost increases have little to do with energy company rate hikes. It could actually be your home itself that’s the problem.
A lack of proper insulation, leaks developing around windows and doors, or even along foundations and rooflines, that allow cooled air to escape, and even improperly sealed HVAC duct can all mean increasing costs and a decrease in comfort for your home.
Don’t fret! There’s a relatively easy solution - Weatherization.
What Is Weatherization?
The most cost-effective way to increase the efficiency of your home is through weatherization. When energy efficiency experts talk about low hanging fruit and return on investment, weatherization is a key focal point. Not only does the performance of weatherization within your home save you money, but it can also help eliminate those uncomfortable drafts and can also increase your home’s indoor air quality.
However, before any weatherization steps are taken, your home should be tested. This process is called an energy audit, and it requires a fully-trained energy auditor assessing your home and then completing computerized modeling using advanced software.
The Audit Process
The audit process can be thorough, but it will vary from home to home depending on size, layout, architecture, age, and quite a few other factors. However, the basic audit will look something like the following process outline:
- Visual inspection of the home
- Visual inspection of the HVAC ductwork
- Measure level of existing insulation
- Infrared camera inspection to determine if there is insulation in the exterior walls
- Perform a blower door test of the home to determine how drafty the house is & to determine if air sealing is needed in the home.
- Infrared camera inspection during the blower door test to visually see where are the air is coming from & where is the home losing its conditioned air?
- Provide a list of improvements and an estimate associated with the list of improvements.
- The energy audit will be performed by a BPI certified technician.
What is the auditor looking for during the inspection process? Actually, there are quite a few things. They will verify the number and location of air registers in your home, as well as the condition of door and window seals. They will use thermal imaging equipment to identify air leaks around windows, doors and fixtures and they’ll also check wall insulation and framing type, as well as attic insulation.
One of the most critical aspects of an energy audit is the blower door test, though. During this process, a special fan is used to depressurize your entire home. This test should be performed before and after the weatherization steps we’ll explain below in order to verify that air leaks were 1) accurately identified and 2) mitigated during the weatherization process. Note that not all A/C companies can conduct blower door tests, and they are impossible to conduct on your own without special equipment.
This leads us to weatherization, the procedure we use to address the problems discovered during your energy audit and blower test. There are two primary components in the weatherization process – air sealing and duct sealing.
Air Sealing is, of course, sealing cracks and crevices throughout your home to ensure that only the right amount of air is escaping from your home. Air leaks are identified primarily using thermal imaging technology during the blower test portion of the energy audit. Without an accurate blower test, it is impossible to locate all air leaks in a home or business.
Further, our air sealing experts will also focus on the reduction of attic communication within your home – think cable lines, plumbing penetrations and can lights to name a few. These holes allow conditioned air within your home to escape into the attic.
Here in the Southeast, this means that air that you spent money on cooling is escaping into your hot unconditioned attic. Think about the strain you are putting on your air conditioning unit and all that money you are wasting.
Air sealing allows cracks and crevices between the ceiling and attic to be sealed, but also ensures that doors and windows are not transmitting cooled air to the outside. Aging window frames can be particularly susceptible to leak development, but failing door seals also allow hot air in and cooled air out. Both of these problems can also allow moisture to penetrate the home, which increases your humidity level, making the temperature feel warmer, and increasing the chance for mold growth.
The other major weatherization measure we’ll focus on is the efficiency of your duct system. It is natural for ducts located in the attic or underneath the house to effectively fall apart and become leaky over time. What this means is that you are cooling and/or heating the attic or the outdoors, effectively wasting money.
There are several ways that this can happen. In fact, some ductwork may suffer from several types of degradation. We will break these down below:
Loss of Insulation – The ducts that run the length and width of your home must be well insulated if they are to maintain the temperature of the cooled air they carry. When initially installed, that insulation is in good condition. However, over time and through normal wear and tear, insulation can fall away from the ducts. Rodents can also discover this insulation and wreak havoc. Once the insulation has been compromised, there is little protection to help maintain air temperature within the duct.
Loss of Seal – Junction boxes, handling units, and other components of your HVAC system are made from separate pieces of metal sealed together. Over time, the sealant used can fail, leading to a loss of seal. This allows cooled air to escape from the system into the attic or crawl space under your home, leading to reduced system performance, reduced comfort, and increased operating costs.
Constriction – In some cases, air ducts may become constricted. It is possible that a thin gauge duct will begin to collapse on itself, or that the weight of moisture-laden insulation will begin to crush the duct. Once ductwork is constricted, it reduces the flow of air through the entire section of duct. This means less cooled air pumped into rooms in line after the constriction point.
Fortunately, all of these are repairable issues that not only are affordable, but will also translate to an immediate financial savings and an increase in comfort.
Weatherization improvements are not measured based on comfort, although they could be. We believe in using local studies & data to make recommendations, not rules of thumb which is why our BPI-certified technicians perform a blower door test and a duct blaster test which objectively measure the air leakage in the home and through the ducts. Through these measurements and with our deep understanding of building science, we can determine how much work needs to be performed to reach a level that will increase your monetary savings, comfort level and ensure a safe living space.
Who Needs Weatherization Services?
Not everyone needs weatherization as urgently as others - Here are a few important applications.
Homes Built before 2015
In 2015, the state of Louisiana passed legislation that required that all new home builds to pass a thermal envelope test.
That’s great news for those who purchased a home built after 2015, but it is not such good news for those who own a home built before that year, which includes a significant percentage of South Louisiana residents. If your home was built before 2015, it is important to have an energy audit to determine the amount of air escaping from your system and to mediate that problem.
New construction homes are required to undergo a thermal envelope test, but construction firms lack the equipment and expertise to conduct these tests prior to putting the home on the market.
This means that construction companies and developers must partner with a trusted weatherization company. We are proud to work with developers and contractors throughout South Louisiana.
Are you building your own home? If so, you need to ensure that you are in compliance with Louisiana law, and that your HVAC system and home will keep you and your family comfortable without costing a fortune.
Not all HVAC companies can offer energy audit and weatherization services, primarily because they lack the ability to conduct a blower door test. We partner with HVAC companies throughout South Louisiana to help ensure accurate energy audits.
Ready to Get Weatherized?
If you’d like to take the next step and improve your home’s energy consumption and your comfort level? Contact Mr. Green Jeans today at (225)644-0548 or (504)754-0075!
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