In a typical residential home, there’s not much use for a cost/benefit analysis when it comes to air sealing and insulation. Any professional will tell you that in an effort to save energy in a home, nothing will do the job better than air sealing. In fact, industry statistics show that between 25% and 30% of heating and cooling energy is wasted because of air leakage. That includes leakage through the roof and/or attic, the basement, and any other breaches in the building envelope.Professionals will also attest that the best return-on-investment with home energy is air sealing. For example, properly air sealing a home with spray foam can save a few hundred dollars a year in heating and cooling costs. Over the course of a few years, the savings can easily offset the cost of the project entirely. But the project itself must be professionally managed, particularly when the attic or basement are being air sealed. This is work that requires experience and expertise.
In many cases, air sealing is coordinated with the installation of new or upgraded insulation. This will, of course, deliver the best overall results in terms of improved energy efficiency. But there’s more – a properly sealed home will contribute to enhanced indoor comfort, better air circulation, and improved indoor air quality. As well, when a home is well sealed, air moisture is controlled and better balanced, which actually has a positive impact on the health of residents/occupants.
Basic window caulking, weather-stripping, and draft proofing can deliver measurable results in terms of stopping air leakage – but these methods have their limitations. For many homeowners, a good first step is to arrange for a “blower door test”, which measures air infiltration levels in the home and determines where and how air is leaking. After the test, it’s possible to strategize about resolving the air leakage, and decide which air sealing approach would deliver best results.
For industry professionals, one of the most effective approaches to air sealing is spray foam. It’s best known for its ability to insulate, but spray foam is also the ultimate air sealer. And while some homeowners might be tempted to employ a DIY approach with spray foam, this is work far better left to experts who are skilled with both product and installation. Properly installed, a spray foam application will deliver air sealing and insulation performance that is unmatched.
Considered a premium quality product, spray foam does more than just seal and insulate. A good installation will serve as an air barrier and vapour barrier in one – it’s an application that will stop both air leakage and moisture accumulation. This will also allow the HVAC system (heating, cooling, ventilation) to operate with improved performance throughout the winter and summer. Best of all, energy efficiency will be maximized, and seasonal utility bills measurably reduced.
In the Toronto area, Great Northern Insulation offers home energy solutions to residential and commercial customers alike. For a FREE on-site assessment, call 1-888-778-9591, or visit the company website at www.gni.ca .