Barriers Needed For Home Energy Conservation
Your Homes Envelope - Rain, Air and Insulation, the Barriers to Success and Energy Savings
In different areas of the country, there are barriers that determine the success of home energy conservation projects.
When I pull up in front of a house where I am going to perform an energy audit, the first thing I see is the homes rain barrier- at least that is the best description I have for the exterior of a home in this part of the country.
Go up in the Olympic Peninsula of Washington State and you might call it the sponge barrier – a better description in upper Maine might be the icicle barrier and in South Florida, where the weather is really nice, a good description might be the - you can’t see what I’m doing in my home barrier.
This barrier thing is one of the most important parts of a home when considering home energy conservation and a warm, comfortable home. The Barrier is what separates everything outside from everything inside. Everything from rain to bugs - from eyes to noise – from temperature to mother-in-laws.
Let’s call this barrier the envelope. The envelope of the home includes the roof, walls ,and floor. When it’s really cold outside and my daughter complains of the cool indoor temperature, I try to lift her spirits with, “at least we’re not living in a Teepee.” I guess using buffalo hides as a homes envelope presents some challenges for me.
When we are trying to save energy and lower our power bills, it doesn’t do a world of good to install a new high efficiency gas furnace if our homes envelope is not up to the job of separating the outside from the inside. In the same manner, you wouldn’t hide your favorite Valentine candy in a glass cabinet or walk down the street in a see through dress.
With any remodeling or weatherization work that is planned or done on your home, you need to identify and inspect the components of the homes envelope to ensure a successful home energy conservation project.
- Rain Barrier: on the outside of the wall and roof that keeps the worst elements away. When the rain barrier breaks down, the other barriers are damaged and often rendered ineffective. The Rain Barrier is made up of roof shingles and exterior wall siding.
- Air Barrier: this barrier is sometimes referred to as the pressure barrier. The air barrier’s job is to keep air from passing through the envelope. When the wind blows and your curtains do a little dance, the air barrier is not doing a very good job. An air barrier is house wrap, drywall, plaster, Kraft paper, newsprint, caulk, flashing, plywood and just about anything else that air has trouble passing through.
- Thermal Barrier: in your walls, over that ceiling, and under the floor, it is insulation that is the main stay of the thermal barrier. To me, it makes more sense to call it the Insulation Barrier. This is the barrier that reduces the transfer of heat through the homes envelope. It includes a wide variety of insulation materials of which fiberglass and cellulose are currently the most widely used.
Before I conclude this barrier and envelope, energy saving discussion, I will let you in on a little secret. The Air Barrier and the Insulation Barrier are most effective and efficient when they are touching each other. Check it out around your home. Check and find your homes Air Barrier and Insulation Barrier and check to see if they are in contact with each other. Any air space between the two, can reduce their effectiveness. Hope your home energy conservation project is a successful one.
Hope this discussion was valuable, come back soon to detectenergy.com, but remember, I won’t be leaving a light on for you…