How Important Is Insulation?

As the weather turns colder, people may start to notice things about their house, especially if its their first winter in the house. They may notice cold floors, drafts, cold rooms, high energy bills, and really
dry air through out the house or excess humidity. Children and other family members are suddenly uncomfortable in the home. These are the inevitable scenarios with an older less than efficient home,
or even new supposedly efficient homes, especially if the builder cut corners.

Here are some reasons and tips to consider if any of these conditions exist in your home:


1) Cold floors: Usually this will occur if you have hard wood, tile or vinyl flooring and the floors are over a crawl space or a garage. The reason is that underneath the floor is an unconditioned/unheated space that usually is drafty and this affects the floor above.

2) Drafts: Certain areas of the house may seem drafty and uncomfortable. This can be caused by air leakage either into or out of the house. Another cause can be what’s called “convective looping” and this occurs mostly by windows. More about this later or check out this related article

3) Cold rooms: Are some rooms of your house just colder or hotter than others? The reasons for this common complaint are varied and sometimes difficult to pin down, but some common reasons could be: inadequate insulation, very leaky room, inadequate supply pressure from the HVAC, inadequate return air to the HVAC system, improperly sized HVAC unit and thermal gain.

4) High energy bills: usually this is a function of a terribly inefficient home because of inadequate insulation and higher than normal air leakage into and out of the home. Older inefficient HVAC and furnaces can contribute to this. Also there could be “thermostat wars” happening in the home when people in the home keep changing the temperature on the thermostat and the system keeps having to adjust.

5) Air in the house is too dry or too humid: dry air is normal in the winter because cold air holds much less humidity and as cold unconditioned air from the outside enters the home it displaces the warmer more humid air that is escaping. For an explanation of how this works, see the related article on “stack effect”. The same principle applies in the summer except the air is hot and humid that is entering the home. If the house is super leaky, the HVAC system doesn’t have time to properly condition the air. This can result in problems. An improperly sized or malfunctioning HVAC system may also be the culprit here.


Since the house is a system, its best to have the house analyzed by a professional who understands building science. Diagnostic tools such as infrared cameras, smoke pencils, and an infiltrometer (blower door) are best for determining causes of particular issues. Along with a thorough visual inspection, the inspector can typically identify the sources of the problem and recommend or estimate corrective procedures. Summit environmental solutions can provide the analysis as well as the service to help get you comfortable and saving money. Energy prices are only going to rise, so the sooner a consumer takes action, the sooner they will be saving money.
The long-term benefit will be greater comfort, monetary saving and a healthier indoor environment. Call now to learn more about a home energy evaluation.

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