Summers in the Houston area are famously hot, with average high temperatures in July almost 10 degrees warmer than the U.S. average. Any Houston area homeowner hoping to reduce electricity usage from running the central air conditioner needs to do a good job sealing and insulating the home envelope. This does not have to bust your budget, and a little investment will return immediate dividends in lower electricity bills. By sealing and insulating the home envelope, you can postpone replacing HVAC equipment or better prepare your Katy or Sugar Land area home for energy-efficient upgrades, too.
Your Katy Home’s Envelope
Sealing and insulating the home envelope means imagining that your home is wrapped in a protective bubble, where outside air stays outside unless you invite it in, and inside air stays inside, treated by your central air conditioner. The outside walls, floors, roof and ceilings make up your home envelope.
In summer, your home must repel heat infiltration while re-circulating cooled air from your central air conditioner. By sealing and insulating the home envelope sealing and insu, you not only save energy; you improve your home’s indoor air quality and make your family more comfortable.
Easy Steps for Sealing and Insulating the Home Envelope
While some work from a professional HVAC contractor may be needed, you can start sealing and insulating the home envelope yourself, with small steps:
- Seal windows, doors and other openings–this is the work of three or four weekends
- Insulate your attic, basement or crawlspace–you can do this yourself, at your own comfortable pace
- Insulate your walls as this may be the work of a professional insulation contractor
- Seal and clean your home’s ductwork as this may require professional assistance
Sealing and insulating the home envelope begins with sealing, using weatherstripping and caulk, and bringing in a professional to seal your ductwork.
Use weatherstripping around windows and doors to make these movable openings air-tight and waterproof. Do not overlook seldom-opened windows in garage, basement or attic, or the attic hatchway and outside basement doors. Some weatherstripping hints and tips:
- Mix and match materials based on durability; around doors, metals last longer; around windows, foam strips will suffice
- Be willing to try new materials; weatherstripping today comes in adhesive-backed foam, vinyl, springy metal and many other forms
- Start at the less visible windows at the back of your home; work your way around to the more visible front, so your skills improve as you work
- Do not feel you must get everything done in a day or weekend; every window and door you seal saves you energy dollars
For immovable openings that pierce your home’s envelope, use caulk. Caulk finishes the sealing part of sealing and insulating the home envelope. Caulk comes in many formulations and colors. Match the caulk to the job:
- Any spot where electrical wires or cables pierce walls or roof
- Around every window and door where casing meets exterior walls
- Around the chimney
- Kitchen vents, dryer vent and bathroom vents
- Where plumbing pierces the foundation or walls
- Where plumbing pipes pierce the roof
In your Houston area home, most of the ductwork is inaccessible. Here a professional HVAC contractor is helpful. The investment is well worth it, since leaky ducts waste as much as 40 percent of the conditioned air in them. A professional can do all this:
- Ensure connections between registers and ducts are sealed
- Inspect and seal flexible ducts
- Reattach loose seams and seal them with mastic
The second part of sealing and insulating the home envelope is improving insulation. Start in the attic. If you can see the joists, your attic needs more insulation. Purchase and roll out unfaced (no paper) fiberglass batt insulation at right angles to the existing insulation. You can also contract an insulation company to blow in an extra layer, making sure not to block the rafter vents at the roof edge.
Check your basement or crawlspace next. Where your home’s wood structure sits on foundation walls, spray foam on the sill plate can be applied by a professional insulation contractor in less than a day. If any ductwork runs through the space, it should be insulated with rigid board insulation (fiberglass gets soggy when exposed to wet basement conditions).
If you ever want to replace your home’s HVAC system, your properly sealed and insulated home can employ smaller, less expensive equipment than it might otherwise, saving you money for years to come.
If sealing and insulating the home envelope seems like more than you want to tackle, contact us at ACS Absolute Comfort, where we will be happy to help.
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