One of the most expensive aspects of being a homeowner, after paying a mortgage, is money spent on heating and cooling. Maintaining a comfortable living temperature can be difficult, especially with the more people living in your home.
Homeowners strive to maintain comfort while keeping energy costs down. This can be especially true during winter, hence the growing market for winterization products. Whether you’ve tried wrapping your windows in plastic, a door sweep, or extra weather stripping, we all have experimented in methods to save energy and money while keeping our homes comfortable. However, one of the biggest energy losses can come from a poorly insulated crawl space.
Crawl spaces can easily become damp, musty, and excessively moist. If there is no vapor barrier, moisture can build from the floor as well as transferred through the walls. This moist air creates what is known as the ” stack effect,” where moist, cool air rises from the crawl space as warm, heated air leaves the house. Humid air is more difficult to heat and cool, forcing our HVAC systems to work harder to maintain the same comfortable living environment.
Other reasons winter causes higher heating costs is not only because of the obvious temperature difference, but because of this cold air infiltrating your home through vents, foundation walls, and gaps or cracks throughout the structure of the crawl space foundation. This cold air cools heated air from your furnace, especially if your home’s duct work is exposed in an uninsulated crawl space.
The following outlines a few simple steps you can take to insulate your crawl space and make it more energy efficient:
- Check Moisture Levels in your Crawl Space. This can be done by using a moisture diagnostic tool. If you are not able to personally inspect your crawl space, call a local crawl space contractor. Many crawl spaces can have very high levels of moisture and not have standing water. Obviously, if standing water is discovered, than you don’t really need a moisture reader. Crawl spaces perform best when they have less than 50% of moisture. Other methods to reduce standing water or moisture levels in the crawl space include installing a new vapor barrier, drainage system, new installation, or a new sump pump.
- Inspect your Vents. Vents can have the opposite effect, inviting cold air into the crawl space and mitigating efforts to heat your home. Similarly, during the warmer months, warm moist air can enter. The best way to prevent energy loss and to maintain a hygienic space is by installing a vapor barrier. A vapor barrier can seal off the vents entirely, helping maintain an even temperature without any of the negative consequences of having moist and stagnant air enter your home.
- Similar to the vapor barrier, having the correct amount of insulation can make or break you heating bill. Insulation has to be periodically updated to prevent mold and bacteria growth.
Your crawl space does not have to cost you energy or your hard earned dollars. The above steps will improve the health of your crawl space while reducing energy cost.