Why Insulation Requires High Levels of Airtightness
Part of the reason many home renovations become increasingly complex is that your home has many different parts that need to work together to be efficient and effective at what they do – this is why insulation requires high levels of airtightness. While air exits and enters our home in many different ways, it’s important to control that air movement, so that it’s happening where and when you want it to. Insulation requires high levels of airtightness to perform properly, but it’s often a forgotten part of insulation installations.
What is Airtightness?
The air barrier is an important part of your home’s building envelope. The building envelope is a key part of your home’s defense against wind, rain, snow, and temperature, and it is made up of things like walls, the roof, your floor, and air and moisture barriers.
Airtightness is a contemporary concern – just a few decades ago, it wasn’t an important part of building practices, as not enough information was known about home building and the fact that insulation requires high levels of airtightness. A building that lacks airtightness is usually:
- Difficult to keep cool in the summer and warm in the winter
- Expensive to heat and cool
- Prone to pests and water damage
- Allows for sound and smell to travel
Airtightness doesn’t mean your home is entirely sealed; it means that air leakage has been reduced to a minimum, and ventilation is managed, so that your indoor environment is comfortable and safe.
What is an Air Test?
One of the most effective ways to test the airtightness of your home is by having an airtightness test performed. A technician will install a frame with a fan into an exterior door of your home and seal all windows, chimneys, and other exterior openings. With the fan running, the technician can take measurements of air flow, air pressure, and air direction that can give them information about where your home may have airtightness problems. While the best time to do this test is during construction, this test can still be very effective in troubleshooting airtightness problems in any home - because insulation requires high levels of airtightness, any renovation where you’re changing insulation is an excellent time to do an air test.
What are Airtightness Requirements?
If you’re interested in improving the energy efficiency of your home (and you should be!), there are a number of different energy efficiency programs available to help guide you in choosing products and making changes that will help you in the short and long term. Some of these programs are:
- EnerGuide Rating System
- Net Zero
- Passive House
Different programs have different standards depending on variables, such as if your home is attached or not. If you have any questions about these programs, an EcoStar technician would be happy to help you choose a program that suits your needs.
Why is Airtightness Important?
While insulation requires high levels of airtightness, it’s not just for the sake of insulation that you should consider making your home more airtight. Homes lose about 15-20% of their heating and cooling through cracks and gaps that conditioned air leaks though - if your heating and cooling bill is $130 a month, that’s $26 bucks!
Beyond the bill in your hand each month, a leaky home is also an uncomfortable home - a lack of airtightness causes drafts, seesawing temperatures, and hot and cold spots. Being more airtight also helps to prevent moisture from travelling to unwanted parts of your home, where it can condense on walls and ceilings and potentially aid mold growth. Improving your insulation should always come with a corresponding improvement in airtightness - insulation requires high levels of airtightness to work at its best, but it will help other parts of your home, like your HVAC system, work more efficiently too.
Improving Airtightness & Energy Efficiency
If you’re like the majority of us, you live in a home with a bit of character. It’s been on the block for a while and it’s time for some energy efficiency upgrades. When it comes to insulation, where do you start?
The first thing is to contact a professional. At EcoStar Insulation, our teams have been performing insulation installations for years, and we let our on-the-job and in-the-classroom experience guide homeowners in making these big decisions. We know, for example, which insulation will work best in what space, and help to locate and close gaps and leaks causing air to escape from your home. Time is one of the most important parts of any insulation installation, and taking care to properly install materials and barriers can make the difference in your future product’s efficacy.
Why Improved Airtightness is Good for Insulation
Because we spend up to 90% of our time indoors, it only makes sense that insulation requires high levels of airtightness to work at its best and that improving the airtightness of our home is going to have positive effects all around. Improved air tightness in your home will:
Prevent moisture from infiltrating your building envelope and settling on or around your insulation. Some types of insulation compress or degrade when exposed to water.
Improve your home’s energy efficiency, saving you money on your monthly utility bills and on maintenance and repairs to your HVAC appliances.
Increase your indoor comfort and safety by helping to regulate and control temperature and humidity indoors.
Making the Right Choice for Your Home
If you’d like to know more about airtightness or want to find out how air tight your home is, get in touch! The EcoStar team are professionals in the insulation installation field that you can trust for up-to-date information on current building standards related to insulation and energy efficiency. We can help you test your home’s insulation for airtightness and have an energy efficiency audit to pinpoint areas for improvement.
Our highly educated team can walk you through the entire process to demystify and explain insulation, airtightness, air tests, and energy efficiency, helping you make informed and confident decisions about your home and the products you choose to use in it. For more in-depth information on how insulation requires high levels of airtightness, get in touch today!