Cold, Comfort and Energy
Cold-Weather Comfort and the three-legged stool
Building Science has shown there are three components required for comfort and efficiency:
- A source of energy
- A building enclosure in which the flow of energy is controlled
- A system of delivering energy from a source to the enclosure
Of these three sources of energy dominates conventional wisdom, the market, and the construction industry. Sources of energy include HVAC appliances common in Atlanta like gas furnaces, electric heat pumps and A/C systems.
Building enclosures keep energy in by establishing pressure and temperature boundaries. Policy and construction standards have steadily improved building enclosure performance, especially in the last 20 years. The process of sealing holes in the building enclosure (draftstopping) and then insulating conditioned space is known as weatherization.
Energy delivery in Atlanta most often means delivery of heated or cooled air forced through a system of air ducts. The quality of duct design, materials and installation varies from acceptable to poor.
Common homeowner fixes that don’t work very well
- Bigger, more efficient HVAC appliances: these help but often do not address fundamental problems
- More ceiling fans: heat from inefficient fans often makes the situation worse
- Ceiling insulation without sealing holes in the pressure boundary: conditioned air leaks around insulation (thermal bypass)
Homeowners should have a well-balanced stool: a comprehensive energy strategy that gives equal consideration to sources of energy, the building enclosure and energy delivery. Building enclosure and duct repairs are often less expensive and more effective than equipment replacement. The first step to effective comfort and efficiency improvement is an energy audit.
More info here:
www.dancurlhomeinspector.com Contact me for an energy audit
Southface Energy Institute is THE resource for energy efficiency in Atlanta: www.southface.org
Ignorance repeats itself. Get the knowledge you need before you spend.