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Which is More Effective: Insulation or Air Sealing?

Which is More Effective: Insulation or Air Sealing?

March 27, 2020

insulation or air sealing

Both air sealing and insulation are great ways to ensure the heating or cooling in your home is consistent and overall energy costs are low. However, many homeowners will wonder which of the two is more effective. The pros at DFW Thermal are here with an answer! 

What is Air Sealing?

You might have heard the words “insulation” and “air sealing” used synonymously, but there is a significant difference between the two. Air sealing ensures the air tightness of your home. That means, with the help of air barriers such as caulking, foam, plywood and concrete, air sealing ensures air does not enter or leave the home. Whether it’s weatherstripping your doors and windows that leak air, adding foam gaskets behind outlets, or adding gaskets to door bottoms, there are several ways you can air seal your home to ensure there is little to no energy loss.

What is Insulation?

Insulation on the other hand is meant to use insulation materials (fiberglass, cellulose etc.) in order to prevent heat from moving through the walls, ceilings and floors. Heat can easily move through your home, whether it is kept airtight or not, as heat tends to move from warmer spaces to cooler ones. So, by this logic, in the winter, heat moves from inside your home to cooler spaces such as your garage, basement and attic. In the summer, heat flows indoors from the exterior of your home. That is why we use insulation to resist the continuous flow of heat so that heat is kept inside during the winter and kept outside during the summer.

To sum it all up, air sealing prevents air from leaving or entering your home through openings and gaps. Insulation on the other hand, resists the continuous flow of heat whether it is within the interior of the house or from the exterior.

Which Is More Effective?

If you have only insulation without any air sealing, you still might notice an increase in your energy bill. Plus, you might even notice an overall decrease in your indoor air quality. With conditioned air flowing out and unconditioned air flowing in, the air quality of your home might have more toxins and allergens than usual. However, if you only have air sealing, you might have stopped air from flowing out and in, but you might notice significant heat loss in the winter and heat gain in the summer. This will lead to inconsistent temperatures in your home and overall discomfort.

So, to answer your question, insulation and air sealing are not as effective on their own. You will see a significant improvement if you take advantage of both. By covering air leaks in your doors, windows and outlets while adding insulation in your attic, crawl spaces and basement you will reduce energy loss overall. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that by both air sealing and insulating your home, you can save an average of 15% on heating and cooling costs and 11% on total energy costs.

In short, it is best to have both air sealing and insulation.

Have more questions about insulating your home? Call the pros at DFW Thermal at 214-731-3115 or schedule a service online!