Plan Your Project to Fix Your Uneven Temperatures
Prudent homeowners minimize uneven temperatures within their homes. First, seal up leaks and balance heating/cooling ductwork. Next, properly insulate your home. Then, add heating or cooling capacity (if necessary). GreenHomes America offers a general list of actions that help eliminate large temperature fluctuations within a home.
Air Seal the House
Homeowners should strive to eliminate air leakage through holes, gaps and penetrations in their home wherever possible. Otherwise, heated or cooled air in our homes escapes through these holes and moves outside. In most homes, connections between the house and the attic and between the house and the crawl space are the locations to seal first. Also, many homes contain excessive air leakage around the window unit itself (between the window and the rough opening of the house framing). Frequently, this gap around windows remains leaky. Plus, the window gaps provides a source for air to enter or exit the home year-round. SEAL YOUR HOME!
Seal & Balance the Ducts
Just as important as sealing the house is sealing all ductwork supplies and returns. Thorough duct sealing ensures the air you heat or cool remains in the house. SEAL YOUR DUCTS!
As a part of your comprehensive air sealing efforts, balance the duct system. Balancing a duct system adjusts the amount of air from your heating or cooling system delivered to each room. Bigger rooms with higher heating/cooling loads need more supply air than smaller rooms do. If the amount of air delivered to each room by your heating/cooling system is wrong, temperatures in those rooms will fluctuate. BALANCE THE DUCT SYSTEM!
Insulate the House & Windows
After air sealing as much as possible, insulation should be increased in the attic, exterior walls, floors over unheated spaces and kneewalls of the home. The insulation should always be installed to be continuous and to the proper thickness. Uninsulated ducts should also be insulated in unconditioned spaces like in attics or crawl spaces to be sure the heated air from your heating system or the cool air from your air conditioning system remains at the proper supply air temperature. INSULATE YOUR HOME AND DUCTS!
For homes with large glass areas causing temperature imbalances in rooms on the south/west exposures, the windows in your home should minimize the sun’s energy radiating through them during the warmer months of the year. Windows that allow more heat gain result in rooms overheating. Additionally, the heat gain makes your air conditioning system work harder (using more energy). It also means rooms on the south and west exposures of your home likely overheat and become very uncomfortable. Window shading devices such as retractable awnings or even well-planned deciduous trees help minimize solar heat gain.
Solar films and shading devices helps lesson solar heat gain into your home as well. For new windows, GreenHomes recommends a window with a Solar Heat Gain Coefficient (SHGC) of less than .25 in hot, southern climates. These windows are designed to block more of the sun’s energy before it comes into your house reducing the amount of cooling needed from your air conditioner. REDUCE HEAT GAIN THROUGH WINDOWS!
Add Heating and/or Cooling Capacity As a Last Resort
Many times, comprehensive air sealing and insulating of your home will correct the uncomfortable temperature variations without a need to do anything else. If, however, after minimizing the heat losses or gains as much as possible by tightening and insulating your home it is determined that additional heating/cooling capacity is necessary, the possible solutions to be considered include:
- Adding additional heating/cooling supplies to rooms of the home that need it. For supply ducts to be added, the new ducts will need the physical space in the floor system or attic. In many existing homes, adding additional supply ducts is a very challenging task and best left up to an experienced contractor. At the same time, improving the return duct system often requires even more physical space to install return ducts. Improving the return duct system will often improve heat flow throughout the home by eliminating air pressure imbalances. IMPROVE DUCT EFFECTIVENESS!
- Other options to be explored will include adding a separate zone to a room (and a dedicated thermostat to that room) or installing a separate HVAC system to an area of your home such as a Ductless Split HVAC Unit (also with its own dedicated thermostat). As an alternative, ENERGY Star rated window air conditioning units can also be used to boost cooling to areas of a home. Many homeowners, however, consider window air conditioning units to be too noisy for regular use. ADD EFFICIENT COOLING WHEN NECESSARY!
Home Energy Audits Improve Uneven Temperatures
As you can see, improving the comfort of homes with uneven temperature swings in the winter or summer can be challenging. To help the homeowner determine the best solution for their home, GreenHomes recommends getting a quality energy audit for your home. When done properly, an energy audit will pinpoint the true sources of comfort problems and energy waste in your home such as excessive air leaks or insufficient insulation levels. The energy audit will be your roadmap or plan for creating a more comfortable, energy efficient home.
Common Questions about Energy Audits by Homeowners:
- Why is a quality energy audit a smart place to start?
- What does an energy audit include?
- What does an energy audit cost?
- Is a Free Energy Audit Worth doing?
- What are 10 questions I should ask an energy auditor before I hire them?
- How do I find a qualified energy auditor?
- What is my Role as the Homeowner during an Energy Audit?
- What information should I learn from my energy audit?
Remember, a high-quality Home Energy Audit provides a critical step for creating a more comfortable home. However, the energy audit by itself doesn’t improve the conditions of the home at all. Only by actually installing the recommendations helps lower your heating/cooling costs and feel more comfortable in your home.