Home Structure

Your home’s “shell” is made up of the windows, doors, walls, foundation, floor, roof, and perhaps skylights. This envelope is the barrier between the carefully controlled, temperate indoor environment in your home and the fluctuating and sometimes harsh humid outdoor environment. Follow several tips to help your home envelope perform better as a barrier. In turn, you will use less energy in your lighting, heating, ventilating and air conditioning systems to control the light, temperature, humidity, comfort and fresh air levels inside:

Add or upgrade insulation. Increasing your home’s resistance to heat loss and gain may be the most important structural improvement to make. KUA recommends a minimum of R-30 or R-38 for ceiling insulation, a minimum of R-11 for wall insulation and R-15 under floor crawl spaces. (In order to qualify for a KUA rebate, a free on-site Energy Audit is required.)

Seal cracks with caulking or other material. Inspect the outside to locate cracks and other obvious openings. On the inside, look for cracks of daylight and feel for drafts. Be sure caulking is sufficient around such places as window and door frames; where the walls meet the foundation; where pipes enter the house; and where different materials, such as concrete and wood, meet. Sealing leaks around your home or building can prevent unwanted drafts or positive or negative pressure deference in rooms.

Tighten up the window and doorframes with weather-stripping. If existing weather-stripping is in good condition but has come loose, re-fasten it with an adhesive, nails, screws, or staples, whichever is appropriate? If it has deteriorated or there is none, install new.

Replace broken glass as soon as possible. Cracked windows are not only hazardous; they also leak warm or cool air and drive up your energy bills. Missing panes do, too. If you need to patch a cracked window temporarily, there are heavy transparent tapes that can be used for this purpose.

Make sure the attic is well ventilated. KUA recommends 1 sq. ft. of vent/150 sq. ft. of attic. Outlet vents should be 3 feet higher than inlet vents. Attic airflow is best with continuous soffit and peak ridge vents.

Taking a closer look at Windows

    • Install insulating drapes or shades. Close drapes and shades during the day in summer, during the night in winter.
    • In the summer, close windows during the day when it’s hotter outside than in; open in the evening if the temperature outside is cooler than inside.
    • Use awnings, reflective tint, solar screen or other exterior shading for windows. When building, plan a wide roof overhang to shade windows.
    • Avoid large expanses of windows when planning to build a mechanically conditioned home, decreasing the amount of heat conductivity.

Window Replacement: Consider purchasing double pane low-E argon gas filled SHGC <0.25 windows or better on performance.
When selecting windows for energy efficiency, it’s important to first consider their energy performance ratings in relation to your climate and your home’s design. This will help narrow your selection. Select windows with both U-factors and low SHGCs to maximize energy savings in temperature climates with both cold and hot seasons. Look for whole-unit U-factors and SHGcs, rather than center-of-glass (COG) U-factors and SHGCs. Whole-unit numbers more accurately reflect the energy performance of the entire product.
A window’s energy efficiency is dependent upon all of its components. Window frames conduct heat, contributing to a window’s overall energy efficiency, particularly its U-factor. Glazing or glass technologies have become very sophisticated, and designers often specify different types of glazing or glass for different windows, based on orientation, climate building design, etc.

Tips for Sealing Air Leaks

  • Test your home for air tightness.
  • Caulk and weatherstrip doors and windows that leak air.
  • Caulk and seal air leaks where plumbing, ducting or electrical wiring comes through walls, floors, ceilings, and soffits over cabinets.
  • Install foam gaskets behind outlet and switch plates on walls.
  • Inspect dirty spots in your insulation for air leaks and mold. Seal leaks with low-expansion spray foam made for this purpose and install house flashing if needed.
  • Look for dirty spots on your ceiling paint and carpet, which may indicate air leaks at interior wall/ceiling joints and wall/floor joists, and caulk them.
  • Cover single-pane windows with storm windows or replace them with more efficient double-pane low-emissivity windows.
  • Use foam sealant on larger gaps around windows, baseboards, and other places where air may leak out.
  • Cover your kitchen exhaust fan to stop air leaks when not in use.
  • Check your dryer vent to be sure it is not blocked. This will save energy and may prevent a fire.
  • Replace door bottoms and thresholds with ones that have pliable sealing gaskets.
  • Keep the fireplace flue damper tightly closed when not in use.
  • Seal air leaks around fireplace chimneys, furnaces, and gas-fired water heater vents with fire-resistant materials such as sheet metal or sheet rock and furnace cement caulk.