We talked about air leaks and how air moves throughout the house. We will take a look at what insulation is and how important it is to conservation. Heat transmission in the home is the leading cause of winter heat loss and the loss of cool air during summer months. Most single family homes lose more heat through transmission than they do through air leakage. Insulation slows heat transmission through the homeâ€™s floors, walls, ceiling, and roof.
Insulation performs the following thermal actions:
- Conserves energy by slowing heat transmission.
- Reduces the size of heating and cooling equipment that a building needs according to the insulation’s R-value.
- Prevents wintertime moisture by preventing low interior surface temperatures.
Insulation also carries with it the following benefits:
- Reduces noise.
- Helps slow down and prevent air leakage and water vapor transmission.
- Helps improve a building’s fire resistance.
Insulation is installed in a building’s cavities, attached to the building frame, or attached to the building’s exterior surfaces.Â What are some of the characteristics of insulation? Insulation slows heat transmission in an important way. It reduces heat radiation and air convection within the cavities where it is installed. Insulating materials are not as dense as other building materials which are conductors. There are millions of tiny air pockets within the fibers or bubbles in plastic foam insulation. These fibers and tiny bubbles help to slow down the process of heat transmission. The density of the insulation affects its R-value.
Insulationâ€™s ability to slow down heat flow is measured by the R-value. The R-value of any building assembly is determined by the following factors:
- Type and density of the insulation.
- Air leakage and convection through voids, gaps, or low insulation density.
- Waterâ€™s presence within the cavities
INSULATION R-VALUES PER INCH
Fiberglass batts, Blown, Board – 2.6 – 4.2
Cellulose Blown – 3.2 – 3.6
Mineral Wool Batts – 2.6 – 4.4
Vermiculite or Pearlite – 2.1 – 2.4
Expanded Polystyrene – 3.6 – 4.4
Extruded Polystyrene – 5.0
Polyisocyanurate Board – 5.6 – 7.6
R-values vary by insulation type, density, and the quality of insulation.
Insulation plays an important role in energy conservation. You can use all the green material you want to use and seal and caulk every split and crack you can, but ifÂ you have no insulation, you have accomplished nothing. When is the last time you have taken a look in your attic? Chances are that if you need to add insulation to your attic, there are other places where it may need to be added, but the attic is the first place to start. You can contact your local contractor for an inspection to see if your insulation needs to be updated.
An air conditionerâ€™s filters, coils, and fins require regular maintenance to work efficiently and properly. You have to maintain these few things in order to get the years of service that you need and deserve from the unit in which you have invested your money.Â Neglecting these few steps will cause a steady declineÂ in performanceâ€”costing you money. Also, your comfort level will decreaseÂ because your unit is struggling to reach peak performance potential to enable it to work efficiently and properly.
One of the most important things to check on your HVAC unit is your filter. Clogged and dirty air filters will block the flow of air through your unit causing a significant drop in your system’s performance. With the air flow being blocked by dirt and debris, the air that comes through the filter can carry the dust and debris directly to the evaporator coil causing a big drop in performance. Keeping your air conditioner filters clean can lower your unitâ€™s energy consumption by 5%-15%. For central air units, the filters are generally located somewhere along the air return ducts. They are sometimes found in walls, ceilings, furnaces, or in the air conditioner itself. Room air conditioners have the filter mounted on the front of the unit behind the front grill. Some types of filters are reusable; others have to be replaced. The more your unit runs, the more often you need to check the filters. Filters are rated by a Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value (MERV). The higher the MERV number, the more effective the filter will be at keeping dirt out of your system.
Your air conditioner evaporator coil and condenser coil can collect dirt over years of usage. A clean filter will delay this accumulation, but in time, the coil will still collect dirtâ€”reducing the air flow and reducing its ability to absorb heat. To avoid this problem, you need to check the coil at least once a year. A good time of year to do this is in the spring when you do your spring cleanup from the winter that has just ended.
Outdoor condenser units need the same type of attention. You can easily check the coil to see if dirt is collecting on the fins. Check with your local home improvement store or HVAC expert to see if they have a cleaner available for these coils. The aluminum fins on evaporator and condensing coils can easily become bent and prevent air from moving through them. Air conditioner supply stores sell a tool called a â€œfin combâ€ that will move or â€œcombâ€ these fins closer to their original position.
These units also have a condensate drain that can become clogged. Clogged drains prevent the unit from reducing humidity, therefore, sending more moisture into your home. You can occasionally send a stiff wire through the unit’s drain channels to prevent them from clogging.
These are just a few things that you can do to help bring your HVAC unit closer to peak performance to help you save moneyÂ and conserve energy at the same time.
If you watch television, listen to the radio, or surf the internet, there is a good chance that you have heard of air purifiers. They are electronic machines that work to make indoor air healthier. This is done by trapping harmful air particles in the filters or collection gridsâ€”making your air healthier and easier to breathe. What are the benefits of having a home air purifier?
Air purifiers work to eliminate dangerous or unhealthy contaminants from the air. This is a great benefit for young children in the home, the elderly, and those with allergies. Having cleaner air in your home contributes to improved health and results in fewer illnesses as well as promoting a greater sense of well being. For those with asthma, the purifier helps to reduce the flare-up of asthma attacks. Many air purifiers also remove smells and odors from cooking or from those who smoke indoors. Pet dander, dust mite feces, pollen, and other airborne irritants are among the impurities removed from the airâ€”providing you with an environment of clean, fresh air.
Some people do not purchase air purifiers because they feel that the cost is prohibitive, but purifiers come in a number of different makes and models with various options. Prices can range from $29.99-$300.00 for smaller, portable models to several thousand dollars for a central, whole-house air purifier. OnceÂ you decide what you want an air purifier to do inÂ your home, you can explore the options. With a little research (which can be done easily online), you should be able to find at least one air purifier that is within your price range. Can you really put a price tag on clean, healthy, and breathable air?
As great as air purifiers are, it is important to remember one thing: you cannot reap the benefits of owning one if you do not use it. There are many individuals who make the purchase but do not properly use their air purifiers if they even use them at all. In most cases,Â air purifiers work best when used all the time. Constant use allows your air purifier to continuously remove the air particles floating around inside your home or inside a particular room. If you make the decision to purchase an air purifier, be sure you actually use it.
Because of all the benefits in healthier living that are provided by air purifiers, isn’t it time for you to consider purchasing one for your home. You will find that it is one of the best purchases you have ever made.