Your home’s crawl space may be out of sight and out of mind, but that doesn’t mean its impact on your energy efficiency is also invisible. In fact, the crawl space is one of the biggest culprits in home energy loss, right alongside uninsulated basements and attics. As veterans of the home HVAC industry, the technicians from Davis & Green have seen the many ways an uninsulated crawl space can impact energy efficiency. From cold drafts to hot spots and uneven temperature distribution, your crawl space can cause your heating and cooling system to kick into overdrive. Here’s what you should know:
1. Drafty Access Door
Your crawl space is accessible from the ground floor via a special access door. In most cases, this is a small, square door set directly into the floor. Every house has a different layout, so you may have to hunt around for yours. Common locations for crawl space access doors include the basement, pantry, and utility closets. Once you locate your access door, you can check it to see whether or not it’s been insulated. Most doors are uninsulated, which allows air from the crawl space to enter your home unobstructed. You may even feel a draft of cold air coming from the door on a chilly day. Luckily, this is a fairly simple issue to solve with some insulation or weather stripping.
2. Leaky Air Vents
Many homes are set up with HVAC ducts running through the crawl space. Ductwork is a system of bulky metal pipes that circulate treated air from your furnace and air conditioner throughout the rest of your home. If your ducts are damaged or in disrepair, they can seriously reduce your home’s energy efficiency. Damaged ducts are caused by age, improper installation, animal activity, and poor maintenance. Air leaks are the most common side effect of damaged ductwork. Leaks allow air to escape through holes or gaps in the ducts, causing your HVAC system to work less efficiently. Symptoms of damaged ductwork include unusually high utility bills and uneven heat distribution throughout your home. If you suspect you have leaky air ducts, a technician from Davis & Green would be happy to inspect the ductwork for damage. Depending on the specific issue, we may recommend either repairs or replacement.
3. Cold Pipes
Similar to HVAC ductwork, many homes have pipes running through their crawl spaces. On winter days, cold air in the crawl space can make its way into PVC pipes and cool down the water running through them. You’ll probably notice this when you first turn on your taps on cold days. If you get a blast of icy water from your kitchen sink or shower, you can guarantee your water heater will kick on to warm it up. You may also notice a sudden spike in your gas or electric bills during winter. The harder your water heater works, the more energy it consumes. For that reason, insulating the space around your pipes can take the burden off your water heater and reduce your carbon footprint.
4. Drafts From Uninsulated Walls
Most crawl spaces have minimal or no insulation protecting them from the outside world. In fact, many crawl spaces feature bare concrete walls. Not only does concrete lack natural insulation properties, but it also retains heat and cold. That’s why you can place your hand on a piece of concrete many hours after the sun has gone down and still feel the heat. Unfortunately, this means your crawl space is highly susceptible to natural fluctuations in weather. By retaining heat in summer and cold in winter, uninsulated crawl spaces cause your HVAC system to constantly fight against seasonal weather. Putting up foam insulation boards can protect the walls from the elements and improve your home’s energy efficiency.
5. Heat Transfer Through Floors
Your floors may feel rock solid beneath your feet, but they’re actually porous enough to transfer air temperature between the ground floor and crawl space. You’re most likely to notice this on extremely cold days when one step on the icy floorboards has you running for the closest pair of warm slippers. Despite being most noticeable on extreme weather days, heat transfer takes place all year round. By gradually raising or lowering the temperature of your home, your HVAC system has to work harder to keep your home comfortable. Any time your heating and cooling system is taxed in this way, it consumes more energy and lowers your home’s overall efficiency.
By repairing gaps in the floor and adding insulation, you can protect your floor from heat transfer. You can check for gaps between the floor joists, especially in areas where pipes or wires travel between the ground floor and crawl space. These gaps can be filled with flexible, anti-fungal insulation like spray foam insulation. Once the gaps are filled in, you can apply an additional layer of fiberglass blanket insulation.
6. Fluctuating Humidity
The humidity level in your home plays a huge role in its energy efficiency. This is because higher humidity levels cause an insulating effect. You’ve probably experienced this effect the last time you visited a greenhouse. By keeping the greenhouse’s humidity level high, the space retains heat and feels much warmer than the air outside. Your crawl space functions the same way. During the summertime when the air is muggy, your crawl space traps excessive heat and moisture.
All of this extra heat can then make its way into your living space via the floors, ductwork, and uninsulated crawl space hatch. The opposite effect is at play during winter. Cold weather brings dry air, sucking the moisture from the crawl space. Without any humidity left to retain the warm air, the crawl space becomes icy and needs constant attention from your furnace. Installing a dehumidifier will help regulate the humidity level and keep it safe and healthy all year round. Dehumidifiers also discourage mold and mildew growth, making the air safer to breathe.
Heating and Cooling Company in Richmond
Are you looking for ways to improve your home’s energy efficiency, cut down on utility bills, and minimize your carbon footprint? We can help! Since we opened our doors in 1984, Davis & Green has been a trusted provider of heating, plumbing, and air conditioning service in Richmond, VA. Our lineup includes maintenance, installations, replacements, and repairs for furnaces, air conditioners, and heat pumps. We also provide a wide range of plumbing and electrical services. We’re proud to offer honest, precision-based service backed up by years of training and in-field experience. Our dedication to top-notch HVAC and plumbing solutions led us to gain an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau. And since we’re a Lennox Premier Dealer, you can trust that you’ll always receive a top-notch, reliable product for your project.
Are you interested in learning more about energy-efficient solutions for your home? Call us today to schedule a consultation with our expert staff!