Should You Close Register Vents in Unused Rooms?

I got called to a house last week and the Homeowner was concerned they were using way to much energy and they couldn’t heat and cool the rooms properly. Their solution was to close of the register vents in the rooms that weren’t used or the bedrooms that got to cold.

This is a common solution and see it all the time. I even did this in homes before thinking I could control the air flow. Heck, the damn things wouldn’t have the adjusters on them if they weren’t supposed to be shut, right?

Wrong, these should never be shut. Now that we have better building science and can test the pressures inside and out of the duct system we know that shutting the vents causes massive pressure to build up throughout the system. This negatively effects the system in a few ways-

Video: Exterior Wall Insulation Retrofit

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This video from our friends at Go Green Star explains how to insulate a home's walls from the exterior, for improved energy performance and reduced energy bills, with minimum intrusion. 

The #1 Smartest Investment to Make in a Home You Are Buying

If you are buying a home around Austin Texas, then you want an Energy Audit. If the seller was required by the City of Austin to do an ECAD Audit, then you should require a full detailed report from the seller.

Having your new home’s performance assessed will tell you a lot about how and where your home is losing money. You will then know specifically what needs to be done to stop the waste, and upgrade your home.

One of the most common issues with homes is that they are leaky, and need to be air sealed to stop the loss of expensive cold air in the blistering hot summer months.

In addition to air sealing, most homes are not compliant with the current energy codes for insulation. If you don’t have the right amount or type of insulation in your attic, your home will be:

-     uncomfortably hot in rooms

Video: Indoor Air Quality is a Threat to Public Health.

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This week we had a job sucking out the old insulation of a client’s home. They had recently got rid of a squirrel family living in the attic so this insulation was full, I mean full of feces. Him and his family had been breathing in this air for years, making is indoor air quality very poor.

Did you know that the EPA ranks indoor air quality among the top 5 threats to public health in North America? It's true: poor indoor air quality may lead to asthma, allergies, or even death.

How Blower Door and Infrared Assisted Air Sealing Helps Find Leaks

Using a blower door--a device that sucks the air out of your house to simulate an especially windy day--is the best way to identify where your house leaks. For many of us, a thousand little pin pricks may add up to a hole in your house the size of a window left open 24 hours a day, 365 says per year. 

We go around the home with a smoke pen, hands/feet or the infrared camera, to see and feel all of these leaks. Determining where the majority of thes leaks are allow us to pinpoint the best places to eliminate the issue. If doors or windows are proving to be the problem we know some simple weatherstripping and caulk will solve the problem. However, most of the time it shows us hidden leaks behind the walls that connect our living spaces with the hot,humid and dirty air of the attic!

By using a blower door in coordination with infrared cameras, we can identify the biggest leaks and get them sealed. 

Video: Superinsulation Doesn't Work if the Windows Leak

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In this installment of Green Building Advisor's "Job Site Visits" series, building science guru Joe Lstiburek explains why insulating a house to the highest standards won't do much good if the home still has significant air leakage.

ENERGY: Where does it come from and where is it going

Ever wonder where our country's energy comes from and goes to? This fascinating map from the Lawrence Livermore Labratory shows in simple graphic terms where we generate energy and how much of it goes to various sectors. One of the fascinating aspects of this is everything you see in gray--"Rejected Energy." What this really means is waste. Particularly in electricity, as much as 2/3 of all the energy created is lost during transmission and via other means before it actually does any work. All the more reason to generate your electricity right at home on your roof. 

Air Sealing Where it Counts

The graph below shows which structural air-leaks drive up energy costs the most, allowing you to maximize efforts toward reinforcing your home's building envelope. 

This image comes from http://www.builderonline.com/energy-efficientconstruction/5-penetrations-that-provide-the-most-bang-for-your-air-sealing-buck.aspx 

Air Sealing Where it Counts

The graph below shows which structural air-leaks drive up energy costs the most, allowing you to maximize efforts toward reinforcing your home's building envelope. 

You can chase smaller oppertunities all day long to tighten the home but if you miss the big oppertunities like in your attic you will never have a tight, well sealed home.

The attic usually has about 40% of the leakage in your home. This includes top plates on that attic floor that leak air into or out of stud cavities that are connected to holes like light switches and outlet, can lights (usually a huge source of air leakage) and other penterations like ceiling fans.