Can you improve indoor air quality with an energy audit?  You bet.  Recently our company was asked to do some troubleshooting on a 50 year old home in Northwest Arkansas.  The occupant has environmental sensitivity and respiratory issues, and was having difficulties staying in her home due to her physical reactions and symptoms.  The homeowner suspected the culprit was cellulose fibers from attic insulation added several years previously.

 

We showed up with our diagnostic equipment, surveyed the house carefully, and started testing.  We found that there was indeed some duct leakage from the returns in the attic that probably introduced some cellulose fibers into the home.  However, it was our conclusion that the primary source of airborne contaminants was the crawl space.  The supply ductwork was all located in the crawlspace.  The ducts were disconnected in several spots, and unsealed everywhere else.  The crawlspace floor had no vapor barrier, there was active condensation running down the foundation walls, and the presence of literally thousands of water crickets was noted.  It was not a healthful environment, to say the least. The building envelope was moderately leaky.  With the very leaky supply ducts, and the numerous unsealed floor penetrations, there was a continuous flow of air from the crawlspace into the home.  Paydirt, as they say. 

 

The point to be made from this investigation is that this is an all too common condition in homes in our area.  While the primary intended benefit of an energy audit is to improve a home's energy efficiency, it may be that for many homeowners the resulting improvement in their indoor air quality may have greater value to them than the savings on their utility bills.  It has also been our experience that most homeowners either do not even suspect that they have poor indoor air quality, or if they do, their solutions to the problem miss the mark. 

 

This post originally appeared on Home Energy Consultants' House Whisperer Blog.

Views: 150

Tags: energy audit, indoor air quality

Comment

You need to be a member of Home Energy Pros to add comments!

Join Home Energy Pros

Comment by Gary Kahanak on January 12, 2011 at 3:37pm
@John Milligan--This is a work in progress.  So far the supply ducts in the crawlspace have been repaired and sealed, and all floor penetrations have been sealed.  This was the quickest and least expensive way to limit infiltration of crawlspace air into the home.  A recommendation was made to properly install a vapor barrier on the crawlspace floor at their earliest opportunity.  An insulated, unvented crawlspace can be a good solution for some homes, but humidity and moisture control is critical.  Attaining it can be very difficult, and expensive, in some retrofit situations.  If one cannot be assured of excellent moisture control, it's usually better to go with a vented crawlspace, and put the money into air sealing and insulating the subfloor and ductwork.
Comment by John Milligan on January 12, 2011 at 2:37pm
How did you resolve the crawlspace issues? Did you decide to bring crawlspace into conditioned space or did you seal off at ceiling of crawl space. I have heard mix opinions on what to do with unvented crawl spaces.
Comment by Jon LaMonte on January 5, 2011 at 7:16pm
Gary, I agree with you.  Here in Atlanta I have made comfort and air quality the main issue with energy efficiency as an added benefit.  I think that too many auditors get caught up in the technical side of things and forget that most people just want a comfortable, healthy, and durable home to live in.  This approach has changed my marketing strategies and homeowners have responded to it more favorably, especially at quote time.  Good job.

Videos

  • Add Videos
  • View All

Twitter

Latest Activity

Michael Wenzel is now a member of Home Energy Pros
6 hours ago
Stan Harbuck added a discussion to the group Energy Auditing Equipment for Sale, Trade or to Purchase
Thumbnail

4 Fans, Doors, Gauges, etc. for Sale - 4 Q4E 3300 Retrotec Fans, Doors, Drivers, etc.

4 Rarely used Q4E 3300 Retrotec fan sets (2010/2011) and all related equipment for sale, including…See More
9 hours ago
Stan Harbuck joined allen p tanner's group
Thumbnail

Energy Auditing Equipment for Sale, Trade or to Purchase

Discuss the pros and cons of the equipment you are interested in prior to purchase. Post equipment…See More
10 hours ago
Amber Vignieri posted a blog post
yesterday
Barbara Smith's video was featured

Weatherization: Crawl Spaces

Crawl Spaces - Training for Weatherization Installers. Re-posted from Seventhwave.org
yesterday
Kelly replied to Colin Genge's discussion What is the value of using a pressure pan to test outlets?
"Hi Colin, I like using the pressure pans at outlets to guide my inspections once I'm in the…"
Thursday
Leo Klisch commented on Home Energy Magazine's blog post Natural Gas is Becoming Less Attractive
"It seems a bit wasteful to use NG for such a low temperature application as space heat. If a heat…"
Thursday
HomeWiz posted photos
Thursday

© 2016   Created by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service