Weatherization is a process where professionals help improve the overall living experience in a home by protecting it from the elements. These individuals are well-versed in the field of “home performance” or the efficiency of a dwelling in addressing the needs of its inhabitants, with particular focus on health, comfort, and resource efficiency. Weatherization not only makes your home more comfortable, but it may also help you realize financial gain through energy savings.
Weatherization basically entails an overall understanding of how a house works as a system of daily processes, and coming up with solutions in solving challenges—both simple and complex—and using both tried-and-tested and innovative building science methods. The process usually starts with a physical assessment of the home in order to determine the overall strategy that will be laid out to tackle the problem areas. Weatherization strategies typically combine elements of the following:
A home energy assessment is valuable in helping you understand the energy consumption patterns of your household. An audit can show you which parts or elements of your dwelling are wasting energy, and it will also give you an idea how to solve these problems. It can also help you decide on whether or not to undertake g energy-saving home projects or to install a renewable energy system in your home. During an energy audit, a weatherization professional will employ a variety of equipment such as infrared thermometer kits, carbon monoxide detectors, electricity usage monitors, gas leak detectors, moisture meters, carbon dioxide meters, and blower doors, among others. This is on top of conducting a physical inspection of the house.
Insulation is perhaps one of the most important and impactful aspects of weatherizing a home. Proper insulation serves to prevent or control heat flow—the warmth you feel invading your living space from the outside during summer, or the loss of heat from inside your home during winter. Proper insulation helps maintain just the right temperature in your living spaces, allowing you to cut back on unnecessary operation of heating or cooling units. This leads to significant cost savings over the long term.
There are many methods in installing insulation in your home. Easy, DIY solutions include applying blanket, batt, or roll insulating materials, as well as more sturdy foam boards, on the walls and surfaces of your home. You can also use insulation products with reflective films, which can help deflect radiant energy coming from the sun, making them particularly useful in cooling indoor environments. If you are building a new home, you can also make use of concrete blocks and forms with built-in insulation, which significantly raises the ability of your walls to resist conductive flow of heat.
The R-value of an insulating product indicates the strength of its insulating properties. In general, the higher the R-value, the greater a product’s insulating capacity. A weatherization expert will help you determine what kind of insulating material would be suitable for your home. An R30 insulation material would find good use in specific circumstances, while you may need to go higher in areas of your home that require stronger heat flow resistance.
Water vapor or moisture may enter your home in three ways: with the air currents, by diffusion through structural materials, or by heat transfer. Generally, as much as 98 percent of moisture movement in any structure happens due to the movement of air current, as air naturally transfers from a place of higher pressure to one with lower pressure. Air can find its way inside your home through openings, whether intentional such as through windows and vents, or unintentional such as through cracks or holes on the building envelope.
In general, moisture is important to control because it can become the cause of mold and mildew growth in indoor environments. These are organisms that can be detrimental to human health if inhaled or ingested. Moisture control also interplays with your insulating and air sealing efforts, If there is proper moisture control in your home, your insulation and air sealing will also be more effective in terms of helping maintain healthy moisture levels in your house.
Creating an ideal conditioned environment inside your home can be partly achieved by reducing or preventing air from leaking in and out of the building envelope. Generally, you’ll want to prevent air leakage in areas where you don’t want conditioned air to leak.
One basic air sealing method is caulking or the application of caulk on cracks and openings, such as around doors and window frames, which are architectural elements that don’t move. On the other hand, weatherstripping is a technique that is usually employed in house components that move, such as the actual door or the movable parts of a window. Proper sir sealing works alongside insulation to reduce heat flow through the building envelope of the house.
While air sealing is very important, it can also cause a decline in indoor air quality due to the buildup of harmful substances inside the house. As such, ventilation is also required to prevent these substances from being trapped inside the house.
Natural ventilation techniques such as opening doors and windows may not be enough to provide proper ventilation within the house because, more often than not, they are kept closed to keep the air inside the house conditioned. If your home is mostly sealed throughout the year, you’ll need a ventilation system that can exhaust stale air from your house and bring in fresh air from the outside. There are spot ventilation solutions available to homeowners, such as the use of localized exhaust fans in certain rooms of the house. Alternatively, there are also whole-house ventilation systems that provide consistent and controlled air exchange throughout the home.
What makes a house truly a home is the comfort that it brings, as well as the protection it provides against the outside elements. From prehistoric times when man sought refuge in caves, we pretty much continue to desire the same things today whenever we look for shelter. A big difference is that we are in a much greater position to fashion our homes to our liking, and this includes ensuring that they are resilient against external conditions that can be detrimental to our comfort and well-being.