Draft proofing is one of the most efficient and cost-effective ways to create energy efficiency – it results in energy conservation and utility savings throughout the year. And the truth is, it will benefit any building type, large or small. Drafts and ventilation are completely different – the first is undesirable, the second is desirable and necessary. Drafts are unwanted and uncontrolled. They allow cold air to infiltrate inside and allow heated air to escape outside. Ventilation, on the other hand, is absolutely necessary for balanced internal air circulation. The entire building envelope is more efficient with proper ventilation.
As for draft proofing, the whole idea is to block unwanted air movement. It means preventing cold air from coming inside during winter, and preventing warm air from escaping. Both scenarios result in less energy being used to heat the home in winter and cool the home in summer. And while cost savings will vary with house type and size, draft proofing the windows and doors alone will save measurably. Homes that are draft free don’t lose heated or cooled air, and are more comfortable season to season.
For a start, it’s important to identify the areas in the home that contribute to drafts or air loss. Needless to say, any insulation work should be planned after draft proofing. Windows and doors, for example, are the obvious sources of draft, and should be the first priority when draft proofing. Open fireplaces, air exhausts and ductwork may also pose draft issues and should be addressed appropriately. Importantly, there are different products for different applications, and each with a specific purpose in mind.
One of the bigger questions for the average homeowner is whether to hire a professional or undertake a DIY endeavor. Clearly, a DIY approach is less costly. However, nothing compares with the expertise of a professional – and that includes both product selection and expert installation. The professionals have the tools and expertise to provide the optimum in draft proofing– and that will likely conserve more energy than a basic DIY application. Long term, the savings will make the investment worthwhile.
For every draft proofing application, quality products should be used – these are products that will ensure short-term effectiveness and long-term life. Obviously, windows and doors require a completely different approach than chimneys and fireplaces. This is another good reason for hiring a professional, someone with experience draft proofing various parts of the house. Above all, this work should be done right the first time, and with a good contractor, quality products and workmanship are assured.
The transition between draft proofing and insulating is not always clear-cut. After all, some products will provide sealing and insulation in one application. This is particularly true with polyurethane spray foam insulation – a favorite for professional contractors like Great Northern Insulation. At GNI, the install team often recommends spray foam: it seals drafts like no other product; it creates an effective vapor barrier; and it provides the highest R-Value of any comparable product on the market.