What is a building envelope?
A building envelope acts as a physical barrier between the outside environment and the conditioned space inside, keeping residents comfortable. The building envelope is made up of fenestration (doors and windows), roofs, walls, and insulation. A building envelope is one of the key factors influencing building energy consumption because it separates the unconditioned exterior environment from the conditioned interior space. When it comes to sealing a home for energy efficiency, the first thing to consider is the building’s envelope. This is the layer that separates the conditioned living space of a home from the outside world. In a nutshell, it is the home’s heat-flow control layer, similar to an oversized fluffy sweater.
What exactly is a thermal envelope? No, it’s not a scalding letter from a bill collector.
When a new home is designed from the ground up for a tight thermal envelope, it typically delivers the best performance – and comfort.
The thermal envelope is composed of, “everything about the house that protects the living space from the elements Wall and roof assemblies, insulation, air/vapor retarders, windows, and weather stripping and caulking are all included.” It is the portion of your home that separates your home’s inside conditioned spaces from non-conditioned spaces (such as attached garages, Storage Buildings, porch, Carports, deck, and sometimes the attic for example) and the outdoors. Your home’s conditioned spaces are the areas of your home that you use energy to heat and/or cool. It is also the area where you do not want draughts, allergens, or pollution from the outside to enter your home.
What is one of the most serious issues with old houses? And isn’t it all too often a serious flaw in new homes? The solution is a faulty thermal envelope. When you think of an old house, you probably envision a drafty structure that is hot in the summer and cold in the winter. Any money spent on heating and cooling is wasted because it is lost through the walls and ceiling. The thermal envelope is not properly designed or constructed.
For a home to be as energy efficient and comfortable as possible, the thermal envelope must be a top priority before the first shovel of dirt is turned on the project.
Air sealing, wall and attic insulation, and high-performance windows and doors can all help to improve the thermal envelope of existing homes.
Advantages of a smart membrane:
- improved comfort that you instantly notice
- lower heating bills as the heat stays trapped inside
- efficient humidity exchange from the house
The thermal envelope of a building refers to the airtight layer of smart membrane that is either on the outside or inside of the walls. Sealing and insulating this area of a home correctly can result in significant value and comfort gains for the homeowner.
The same theory applies to your house as to why you wear a hat in the winter because heat escapes through the top of your head. The more effectively you use an air barrier, the better it works in conjunction with a good R-value based on your climate zone, increasing the efficiency of your home.
How to Seal Your Thermal Envelope
You don’t have to let gaps in your thermal envelope keep you from reaching your energy efficiency goals. However, before you can steal your thermal envelope, you must first figure out where the air is escaping. To identify leaks around windows and doors, look for light leaking in or excess dust and dirt. Similar leak signs can be found in unfinished areas of your home, such as an attic.
You can begin working on containing the air in your home once you’ve identified the leaks. Installing weather-stripping along the doorframe will help to seal leaks around your doors. Apply a fresh layer of caulk to any gaps around your windows. Extra insulation and expanding foam can also be used to seal spaces such as your attic if the air is leaking.
Low E glass is used to block the sun’s rays in Energy Efficient Windows. When it’s cold outside, this type of glass helps to keep the heat inside, and vice versa. Glazing options include reflective coatings, tints, and gas fills. This enables it to save money on heating and cooling.
Energy Efficient Windows have a polymer foam structure instead of wood or metal. The polymer material keeps the house thermally efficient and free of condensation. It reduces the U value of the window. According to experts, the lower the U value, the greater the efficiency of the window.
Wood was once thought to be the best window material, but times have changed. In the modern world, both inefficiency and attractive appearances are valued. Modern windows are made up of multiple glass panes that are filled with gas. Multiple paned windows can block UV rays.
Because UV rays are harmful to our health, these window panels keep your home warm and comfortable throughout the year. They also prevent fading in your fabric, floors, and other areas of your home.