Building Science Basics

Building Science Basics - Delmarva Insulation

Since insulation’s beginning, it was installed with the purpose of creating a thermal barrier around a building — and keeping those inside safe, comfortable, and protected from the elements. Little did we know building science would come on the scene and change our industry in a big way. And it’s here to stay.

There is a lot to know about building science — we’ve taken the time to break it down for you.

Much of building science focuses on air flow. Improper air flow can have severe effects on the health and safety of the people in the building. It can also cause mold growth, spread pollutants  and more. Controlling air flow increases the efficiency of a building, reduces stress on mechanicals and controls indoor air quality.

There are a few key conditions that affect air flow (courtesy ENERGYSTAR.gov):

  • Controlled versus uncontrolled airflow
    • Controlled air flow is generated by a mechanical device and is designed to help ventilate a building and/or distribute conditioned air throughout a building. Ventilation systems, fans and heating and cooling systems are typical sources of controlled air flow.
    • Uncontrolled air flow is unintended air flow into, out of, or within a building. This can be caused either by wind, warm air rising in the building, uncontrolled fans and leaks in an air handling system.
  • Air pressure from wind, heat, fans and duct systems
    • Pressure differences across holes, boundaries, and barriers within a building are caused by one of four forces:
      • Wind blowing against a building can cause large pressure differences between one side of the building and the other.
      • Heat and the buoyancy of hot air affects air pressure. Heat naturally attempts to rise to the top of a building (called stack pressure or stack effect. The amount of pressure depends on the temperature difference between the inside and outside of the building, as well as the height of the building.
      • Fans (particularly exhaust fans and HVAC air handlers) can contribute to pressure changes in several different ways. Leakage in the building envelope or the ducting, or an imbalance in the supply and return ducts can cause these fans to have a drastic effect.
      • Duct systems that leak to the outside of the building on both the supply and return sides of the system can cause infiltration rates to increase by as much as 300%.
  • Holes and pathways
    • Uncontrolled air flow (infiltration) into a building is a result of holes in the building’s shell. By reducing the number of holes in the building, and you reduce the amount of uncontrolled air flow. Buildings have two kinds of holes: designed holes and undesigned holes.
      • Undesigned holes in the home are found in the attic, walls, and floors. Any of these holes that connect to the outdoors should be adequately blocked, caulked, gasketed, or otherwise adequately sealed
      • Designed holes include any hole or system that is designed to have air passing through it in a specific direction. Examples of such holes include flues and combustion vents, chimneys, make-up fans, exhaust fans, dryer vents, cooktop fans, ventilation systems, central vacuums, windows and doors, and fresh air inlets/outlets.

All of these things are incredibly important conditions to consider when improving the energy efficiency of a home or business. The way air moves through a building matters — and it ultimately determines how comfortable (and healthy) you are where you live as well as how much it will cost you for that comfort over the lifetime of your home.

Have questions on the air flow in your home or building? Give us a call today!

Tax Credits for Going Green at Home

Tax Credits for Going Green at Home - Delmarva Insulation

In case you haven’t heard, the Residential Energy Efficiency Tax Credit has been renewed! This is great news if you plan to make any energy efficiency updates to your home this year. It is also a great reminder to apply any updates you made last year to your taxes this year. You could be eligible for a tax credit up to $500!

Here is a list of product eligible for tax credits.
(To be eligible these projects must be complete by December 31, 2016.)

Building envelope improvements

  • Insulation materials and systems
  • Exterior doors and windows, including skylights
  • Roofs—pigmented roofs designed to reduce heat gain, and asphalt roofs with cooling granules

Heating, cooling, and water heating equipment

  • Advanced main air circulating fan
  • Natural gas, propane, or oil furnace or hot water boiler
  • Electric heat pump water heater
  • Electric heat pump
  • Central air conditioner
  • Natural gas, propane, or oil water heater
  • Biomass stoves

These products have specific requirements to qualify for the tax credit so make sure you review the Residential Energy Efficiency Tax Credit requirements before making a claim on your taxes or planning a project for 2016.

Residential Renewable Energy Tax Credit
If you have set your sights on a larger renewable home energy project for this year like a solar energy system or even a geothermal heat pump, you’re in luck too! Those tax credits have been renewed as Big City Maids well. Be sure to read the details on the Residential Renewable Energy Tax Credit requirements before planning your project.

Have questions on how upgrading your insulation would apply to these tax credits? Give us a call!

Prevent Frozen Pipes This Winter

Prevent Frozen Pipes This Winter - Delmarva Insulation
It doesn’t take bitter cold to freeze a water pipe. Temperatures only have to dip to about 20°F for a few hours for an exposed water pipe to be at risk of freezing.
The solution is to keep these pipes from being exposed to cold temperatures. Here’s how:
  • Insulate the walls to protect pipes.
  • Cover exposed pipes in crawl spaces or attics with insulation sleeves.
  • Re-route pipes to an inside wall.
  • Seal any cracks in the foundation or walls that allow pipes to be exposed to cold air.
  • If pipes are in an outside wall to reach a bathroom or kitchen, keep cabinet doors open below the sink to allow warm air to reach pipes and keep them from freezing.
Call us! We can help make sure your home is properly air sealed and insulated.

Top Energy-Saving Technologies for Your Home

From controlling lights at home via a mobile app to investing in smart appliances that cut down on energy use and costs, the options for decreasing energy use can be daunting.We’ve compiled a list of the hottest new technologies for your home that can help save big on energy costs.

1. High Tech Thermostats

A Nest thermostat
Smart thermostats are nothing new when it comes to cutting down on home energy use and heating and cooling costs. The Nest Learning Thermostat adjusts your home’s temperature based on your own lifestyle and schedule. The Nest learns your habits so it can automatically adjust the temperature, it even integrates with the weather forecast and adjusts accordingly. According to Nest, the $249 price tag can pay for itself over time based on an average 30% reduction in energy bills with its use.
2. Smart Appliances
New smart appliances have the ability to communicate with the smart grid which uses information to communicate the personal habits of electricity consumers back to the energy companies. Smart appliances will be able to communicate with the smart grid and as a result automatically know optimal times to perform their functions. These times will be at the off-peak hours allowing you to save money by not incurring a peak time higher rate.

3. Smart Power Strips

A smart power strip
Traditional power strips are an easy way to expand the number of electrical outlets in your home. But their convenience can encourage you to leave electronics plugged in all the time — and many devices keep drawing power even when you’re not using them. Printers, DVD players, computers and plasma TVs are all examples of products with standby modes that make them convenient to use but suck significant power on the sly. This so-called phantom power drain costs you money and wastes electricity. Smart power strips, on the other hand maidwhiz.com, work to reduce your power usage by shutting down power to products that go into standby mode. Doing so may save you some serious cash. Statistics vary, but experts say standby power consumption in an average home ranges from 5 percent to 10 percent of your household energy consumption.
4. Home-Automation Lighting

It’s been long-encouraged that switching to LED lighting is the way to go in order to cut back on energy usage and costs. Now you can take it a step further by controlling energy-efficient lighting with custom-made hardware that can adjust switches from anywhere.

Looking to save even more? ENERGY STAR estimates a homeowner can save up to 10% on their total annual energy bill by air sealing and insulating.  
Call us today to learn more and for a free estimate.