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Does Insulation Really Keep Your Home Cool?

Making sure your home has the proper amount of insulation is one of the most effective ways to improve the efficiency of any residential heating and cooling system. Insulation plays a critical role in preventing heat loss, which allows the heater and air conditioner to maintain a comfortable interior temperature.

The laws of physics dictate that hot air naturally flows toward areas that are cooler in an attempt to achieve equilibrium. This means cool air from a room with air conditioning will flow toward the attic or other areas where the air is warmer. Home insulation provides a physical barrier to slow down heat exchange. It keeps warm air inside the home during the winter and outside during the summer.

Home builders will typically install insulating material inside attics, ceilings, and walls. Insulating the heating and air conditioning ducts prevents energy exchange while the units are circulating air throughout the home.

Insulation is just one component of the home’s climate control system. Achieving maximum energy efficiency involves maintaining every part of the system. Leaky ducts, faulty thermostats, worn out equipment and unsealed drafts in attic, basement or crawlspace can all contribute to a loss in efficiency and an increase in monthly heating and cooling costs. Preventive maintenance should include cleaning the air conditioner coils to improve performance.

Hiring a qualified HVAC technician to inspect the system once per year can uncover small problems before they require expensive repairs or replacement. The technician should check the refrigerant in the heat pump or air conditioner and adjust the level if necessary.

A professional can perform an energy audit and offer suggestions to improve efficiency. This includes making sure the equipment is the proper size for the space. An air conditioner that is too big or too small cannot operate at maximum efficiency, so it wastes energy and drives up operational costs.

Making sure the home has enough insulation in the proper locations will allow the heating and cooling systems to operate at maximum efficiency and prolong the lifespan of the equipment.

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Should I Leave Interior Doors Open Or Closed During Heating And Cooling?

Most literature on HVAC systems call on homeowners to seal every hole and crack in the house to prevent air leakage, as this would compromise energy efficiency. Naturally, doors would be closed as well, as they could let a great deal of air escape.

While this advice is based on solid principles, there are other factors at work that should be considered when it comes to heating and cooling, with air pressure being a primary concern.

The Pressure To Stay Cool

With everything sealed up, the pressure inside a room will slowly escalate. This is the natural consequence of continuously pumping a massive volume of air from the outside into a finite space. This can be relieved by opening the door from time to time while the occupant is awake. However, the door would presumably stay closed during bedtime. The pressure may eventually reach the point where additional input from the AC forces air to escape through whatever small openings it can find. Conversely, the rest of the house will experience a negative pressure that would suck in air from the surroundings. Outside air is likely to come from passageways like a furnace flue or a chimney.

This outside air carries with it pollutants that have not been filtered out. In fact, the number of contaminants is likely to be higher because of the way in which they got inside. The humidity and carbon monoxide levels will also spike, possibly causing alarms to set off. The health risks involved have to be taken seriously. Try to feel for incoming drafts near the areas mentioned to see if your house is experiencing this problem. Open the bedroom doors to see it anything changes. The reduced air pressure should stop the house from drawing air through these undesirable pathways.

Possible Remedies

So how does the issue get resolved? Opening the doors would be a good start, but leaving them this way throughout the night may not be feasible to most people. The key thing to remember is that we simply need to increase airflow by a small amount to prevent pressure buildup. Transfer grilles are good candidates for a remedy. They do not compromise privacy and are fairly easy to install.

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