Plugging air leaks early on, to prevent future energy (and money) loss
Research Insights share findings from CEE's energy efficiency research, drawing real-world links to help Minnesotans save energy and money, while lowering carbon emissions.
Energy waste in homes and buildings can be an ongoing challenge for consumers in Minnesota and across the U.S. The culprit of this problem: air leakage through gaps in building envelopes, or the physical separators that divide the interior and exterior of a structure. When air enters a home in this way, the result is increased energy use, higher electricity bills, poor ventilation, and spaces that are either too hot or too cold — an even greater concern, considering Minnesota’s blustering winters and humid summers.
CEE’s Aerosol Sealing in Residential New Construction project was developed to reduce air leakage. The project looked at the best practices of two builders — one in Minnesota and one in California — to create an innovative strategy for integrating aerosol sealing into the construction process for new homes. This research is important, because it explores the many benefits of aerosol sealing, particularly early in construction. Incorporating air sealing during construction enables builders to make use of invaluable feedback about the sealing’s effectiveness, and limits needs for remedial sealing later on (which can be a lot more costly).
Preventing uncontrolled air from entering is incredibly beneficial, because homes and buildings that hold air better tend to perform better in a number of ways:
- They’re more comfortable — they’re warm when you need them to be warm, and cool when you need them to be cool.
- They have improved indoor air quality — this is especially important for supporting respiratory health and for people with other health-related issues.
- They use energy cost-effectively, which means less money spent on electric bills and more energy saved.
The project recently completed the first phase of aerosol sealing by AeroBarrier, a building service provider that specializes in envelope sealing technology. The team sealed four houses in Minnesota and four in California to measure house tightness, or resistance to inward or outward air leakage. (AeroBarrier was recently awarded “Best in Show” and “Most Innovative Building Product” at the 2018 NAHB International Builders’ Show.)
“In Minnesota, implementing AeroBarrier sealing before drywalling has made almost all homes significantly tighter, even without polyurethane foam insulation or air-tight electric boxes on exterior walls,” explains Dave Bohac, director of research at CEE. “And in California, AeroBarrier sealing has ultimately produced tighter houses, versus applying spray foam on attic decking, and allows for less expensive insulation approaches.”
To learn more about the aerosol sealing project, and other CEE research projects, check out our project pages and upcoming Field Notes.
Animation: Aerosol Sealing for Multifamily Application
Video: Multifamily Building Aerosol Sealing
Aerosol Sealing FAQs