High winds and heat loss.
Have you ever felt cold air around exterior wall receptacles, doors, windows, or other surface penetrations? With a blower door, you can feel air coming from the interior door striker plates due to air movement throughout the building. On windy days, high winds pass over and around your home, creating negative air pressure inside or depressurizing the house. These higher winds can be equivalent to a blower door used in a home to locate air leaks that simulate a 30mph wind over your home.
There are many common areas to discover heat loss through thermal cooling and air leaks and some easy methods to counter this problem. You will want to seal your building envelope and thermal boundary to help prevent thermal cooling and heat loss. You must be careful: sealing your home too airtight could adversely affect moisture and vapor movement from bathing, cooking, the occupants, and other areas of moisture ingress, such as basements and crawlspaces. Also, make up air for some interior-supplied combustion makeup air for furnaces, water heaters, and fireplaces. Installing an HRV or ERV may be necessary to bring in the fresh air.
The first and easiest is to caulk around the home's exterior and seal all wall penetrations and anywhere air or water can enter. The next step is to install gaskets at all exterior wall receptacles and light switches. There are some other methods to seal behind these that are more difficult and invasive. Another simple area to caulk is along the bottom exterior wall plate. When the carpet, some flooring, or baseboard is removed may times the bottom of the sole plate is exposed and can be easily caulked and stop quite a bit of heat loss. Now moving on to the windows and doors. If the windows and doors are in overall serviceable condition and not extruded aluminum servicing, the weather stripping can help. At hinged exterior doors, installing jamb pads at the top and bottom of the latching side of the door is a common area to seal common air leaks. If you have single-paned glass windows or doors or older extruded aluminum windows or doors and it's in your budget, you may want to price out updating, as these can be a source of heat loss.
The next one that can have a higher reward is stopping the stack effect. The stack effect is where a conveyor loop of heat loss occurs by allowing cooler air to enter by the lower floor framing at the band board, mixing with the warmer heated air, rising through the home, and exiting into the attic. Preventing the stack effect can be controlled by spray-foaming the perimeter band board (when accessible) and spray-foaming the top plates of gaps at the top plates in the attic.
Updating the insulation where accessible, such as in the attic, basement, or crawlspace, can significantly help. Install weather stripping and insulation at any attic access; this is a common area for heat loss. You can also seal all your duct- work with duct mastic and add duct insulation to help reduce heat loss and condensation. Check with your local energy provider and even your state, as there may be some rebates or tax credits. If you hire an insulation company, they may also know of available credits.
Stephen Lee Showalter, NACHI® CMI, ASHI ACI
Home Inspector, Environmental Consultant
Maryland State Home Inspector License #29634
ASHI ACI Certified Membership
NACHI® CMI Certified Master Inspector
InterNACHI® CPI Certified Membership
Certified Commercial Property Inspector Association
FAA Certified UAS Pilot #3987636
CRT Certified Residential Thermographer