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Old 01-12-2015, 10:06 AM   #1
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Insulation and Air Sealing

Hello all. We've got a rental unit that has electric heat and wanted to see what we can do to make the unit more energy efficient for the tenants. It is a 3 story end unit town home (about a 500 sf per floor)). I'm pretty handy at doing things myself if it saves money, but require the advice of fine people like you to make sure I do things right.

So here's a few questions I have.

1) What improvements will make the biggest difference in this type of home? I assume new attic insulation is at the top of that list?

2) Are there any significant benefits to using products other than the popular stuff like Owens Corning R38?

3) Will air sealing the attic before putting in the new insulation make a big difference? What's a good sealant to use?

Any advice you have would be great. Thanks!
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Old 01-12-2015, 10:55 AM   #2
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1. Air Sealing and Insulation.
2. Loose fill insulation is easier to install and usually a bit more foolproof.
3. Yes. Any sealant will work as long as it is applied properly and it doesn't need to be exotic.
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Old 01-13-2015, 07:05 PM   #3
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I'd start in the crawl/basement, if there is one. Air seal the wiring/plumbing penetrations through the sub-floor above, same with the attic and use fire-rated canned foam to meet fire-code. While up there, air seal the plate/drywall joints as this also feeds the stack effect. Especially around the exterior wall perimeter as this feeds ice dams. Be careful not to seal any top- plate wall cavity feeding supply air to the furnace below...

Then use something better than R-38 as that is a low-density insulation (low density is 1/2# per cubic foot- including a lot of blown-in, inherent with convective loops in your attic). Those rob you 24/7 of heat you paid for, add 3" of cellulose or a layer of house wrap to stop the convective looping- saving 50-70% of that heat loss. Realize there is a trade-off of cost/value after the first 5" of R-3.6 insulation in the attic, as you are stopping 95% of the heat loss. Way more money to get the last few more percentage points- never reaching 100%.

Air seal (backer rod) under the baseboard or drywall after removing/ replace base. Air leakage in a house is more important than insulation... air seal with foam gaskets all elect. switch plates/receptacle then replace covers. Inside plastic storms are another option.

Look for dirty FG in attic for big air leak locations, its a great filter. Use rigid FB at low clearance rafters over exterior wall to beef-up that low R-value place in most homes. Get a free energy check if possible from local utility company.

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17,000 dryer fires a year, when did you last clean the inside of the dryer near motor or the exhaust ducting?
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air sealing , electric heat , insulation attic

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