Upgrades that Effect Energy Loads

This post first appeared on the Green Building Advisor Website.

As homeowners, builders, and/or designers, how do we choose the right products or assemblies that provide the best energy performance?  How does a code minimum designed wall perform?  How about changes in ceiling insulation R-values?  What if we decide to increase the air tightness?  How about triple pane windows?  There are several ways in which product and assembly upgrades are chosen.

  1. First is experience. In having the opportunity to be in more than 100 homes a year performing energy assessments/audits and building investigations, I see both successes and failures.
  2. Being familiar with the different products on the market is important. As an example, selecting the right product for a given budget that can be installed over the board sheathing of an existing home to provide both bulk water management and air control.
  3. Using energy modeling software to quantify the decisions is helpful. The easiest way to decide which improvements to implement is by creating a baseline (code minimum) model of the project, then key in the proposed upgrades to see how the model changes.
Air leaks, thermal bridging, and low R-values all affect the operational costs and comfort for this home.

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