The 3 Most Important Things To Make Your Home Comfortable and Efficient

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Let’s cut to the chase, here are the 3 most important things, in priority order, to make your home comfortable, healthy, longer lasting, and efficient:

  1. 1. Reduce air leakage
  2. 2. Keep reducing air leakage
  3. 3. Reduce air leakage some more

Nope, we didn’t screw up. Air leakage is really that critical. Want to know the wildest part? Almost no one measures it. (There are of course many other factors, but those aren’t today’s topic.)

Do you know what your blower door number is? You should. That is the measure of the air leakage in your home.

If there was only one number we could know about your house, we’d want to know your blower door number.

Not square footage, not energy use, not what size your furnace or air conditioner is. It’s that important. More on what blower doors are in a bit.

Did you know that air leakage:

  1. 1. Is usually the biggest cause behind drafts, hot/cold spots, and other comfort issues in your home?
  2. 2. Is typically the largest driver of energy use in your home – and comprises between 30% and 70% of energy wasted on heating and cooling?
  3. 3. Is often the largest contributor to moisture problems, especially mold and mildew?
  4. 4. Is the only improvement that simultaneously improves heat, air and moisture flows in and out of the house?

The Trouble with Air Leakage

So why don’t you know about this magical thing called air leakage? Because very, very few people or companies measure it, know how to predict reductions, or can reliably reduce it. There are pockets on the East and West coasts, but in Northeast Ohio not so much.

Understanding air leakage and its effects also requires whole house thinking: taking into account all the interactions of the various systems in the house. Again, very, very few people or companies do this. They may pay lip service to whole house thinking (also known as Home Performance) like we used to, but it’s doubtful they really understand it or actually measure results. If they do air leakage testing, it is a usually a cursory before and after test with no checking during the job (when real gains can be made, misses can be caught, and crews can be trained.) They are not trying to deliver amazing results and are extremely unlikely to follow up to see what actual energy use is after the job. Energy Smart does all that.

How Is Air Leakage Measured?

Blower doors are the tool used to measure total air leakage in a home. They are a large fan that is installed in one of your exterior doors. They pull some air out of the house and measure how fast it leaves. You’re probably curious, here is what a blower door looks like:

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A few seconds after the blower door gets up to speed, you will have your reading. 

Now you know the 3 most important things to make your home comfortable and efficient. And they’re all reducing air leakage.

Time for the Pitch

Our initial consultations include a blower door test. Initial consultations also ask you a bunch of questions to find out what your problems and objectives are to be sure we are the right fit for each other. You can get a discount on one by filling out our questionnaire. (A link to the questionnaire is at the top right of every page on the website, you can’t miss it if you want to find it later.)

BUT WAIT!

Please don’t rush off and fill out the questionnaire. Take a look at this video which walks you through our process. Spend some time reading on the website deciding that Energy Smart is the company for you. If you aren’t sure we’re the one, we’re not. If you want a quick fix, we’re not the one for you. If you just want a broad list of what to do to fix your house, not tailored to you or your home, we’re not the one for you.

If you actually want to solve a problem and are willing to do a little work and spend money upfront on diagnosis to do it, then we are likely the one for you. Before you decide that, though, below is some homework to read first. Use these links as jumping off points, then read as deeply as you like.

(By the way, if you’re out of the Cleveland area we do offer remote consulting. Fill out the questionnaire, too, but only after reading up some more. The same rules apply. ?

Further Reading

What Does a Blower Door Air Leakage Reading Mean? – Part 2 of this post dives into the technical details of how big of a hole a reading means, what the units mean, and gives real examples.

The Science Behind What We Do – Home Performance is rooted in science. Everything is interconnected, and we try hard to keep those connections in mind. Here’s the basics.

Problems We Can Help With – Want to know if we can help? Here’s a starter list of problems we can solve.

Humidity: Another Make or Break for Your Home – A top 10 list of how high and low humidity screws things up in your home. Mold and flu and eczema, oh my!

Indoor Air Quality – The air inside your house is likely 2-5 times dirtier than outside. Here’s the rundown on what IAQ is.

Indoor Environmental Quality (IEQ) – True comfort is more than just thermal comfort. Find out more about what is involved here.

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