Energy Efficiency for New Construction

by Keith Dmytryck

Are you adding on to your home or building a new home? Want a highly energy efficient home or Home addition? Air sealing a new home or Home addition is essential for optimal energy efficiency, moisture control and reduced energy costs. Air sealing involves minimizing air leakage in and out of the house using any of several different techniques and materials. Here are some of the standard air sealing techniques and materials that you can use in sealing your new home.

House Wrap

House wrap is probably the most popular air barrier used in new construction. House wrap is a fibrous spun polyolefin plastic which is wrapped around the exteriors of the house during construction. Other materials may be added to house wraps to prevent tearing. This air sealing material is sold in rolls of matted sheets.

Air sealing the house with house wrap is done with the use of manufacturer-supplied tape. The performance of the house wrap can be improved by 20% if you tape seal the house wrap joints carefully and properly.

Air Barriers

Air barriers help prevent air leakage in and out of your house by blocking random air movement through cavities in the building. Random air movement accounts for 30% or more of a household’s heating and cooling expenses. As such, air barriers can help you save a lot in terms of energy costs.
Most of the structural and finish components of the house already act as air barriers but you can still deliberately add extra air barriers by (1) sealing all holes and seams between sheet goods with caulk, gaskets, tape or foam sealants and (2) densely packing insulation in wall cavities and crevices.

Airtight Drywall Approach

The airtight drywall approach (ADA) creates a continuous air barrier inside a house thereby significantly reducing air leakage in a home and reducing energy costs. The standard procedure for the airtight drywall approach is to seal the seams, the joints and all openings during the construction period. ADA is more comprehensive but a bit disruptive. To ensure proper ventilation after an airtight drywall is set up, a heat or energy recovery ventilator should be installed.

Simple Caulk and Seal

Simple caulk and seal, just like the airtight drywall approach, offers the advantage of creating a continuous air barrier within the house. Another advantage with the simple caulk and seal method is that it is less disruptive than the airtight drywall approach as the seams and gaps are sealed only after the exterior sheath and drywall have already been installed and finished.

One disadvantage with simple caulk and seal is that it is not as comprehensive as the airtight drywall approach. That is, simple caulk and seal may miss sealing those building cavities which become inaccessible after the drywall has been installed. As with the airtight drywall approach, the simple caulk and seal method requires the use of heat or energy recovery ventilator for proper ventilation.

If you are planning to build a new home or an Home addition to your home and have any questions or would like a free estimate contact Innovation Construction Co., which has been building homes and Home addition up and down the South Shore for 30+ years.

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