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Drafts and Poor Insulation Create Both Discomfort and Familial Strife

Dec. 12, 2016

Photo via iStock.com / KonstantinGushcha

Richard Pedranti Architect (RPA), a full-service architecture firm focused on sustainable design, and Ecocor, a construction company that manufactures, delivers and assembles high performance Passive House buildings, surveyed Americans and found that regardless of how much American homeowners pay to heat their home, more than half of respondents struggle to feel comfortable in their homes during colder months.

The survey found that uncomfortable homes caused not only physical discomfort, but emotional discomfort as well, considering 67% of respondents said that deciding how to keep their home comfortable during the winter months causes disagreements with a spouse, partner, roommate or children living in their home.

Twenty-three percent of those surveyed said that they feel “uncomfortable” or “very uncomfortable” in their homes during the winter months. Forty-three percent of respondents report that there are rooms in their home that they avoid or cannot use because they are uncomfortably cold, claiming that on average, 28% of their home is unusable because it is so cold. Only 16% of those surveyed reported feeling “very comfortable” in their home during the winter months.

When asked which factors they believed were most responsible for their home feeling uncomfortable in the winter months, respondents more frequently attributed their discomfort to deficiencies in home construction rather than the need to control heating cost or improve their heating system:

1.    Drafty windows, doors and chimneys (51%) 
2.    Lack of proper insulation (50%) 
3.    Old home (43%) 
4.    The need to control heating cost (36%) 
5.    Old, outdated heating system (13%) 
6.    Need for heating system maintenance/optimization (7%)

“Homeowners understand that the problem is not heating the house, it’s the house itself,” said Chris Corson, Founder and Technical Director of Ecocor. “Seventy percent of the people we surveyed said that walls in their home feel cold to the touch. This is just one indicator of the energy inefficient construction that plagues American homes. It doesn’t have to be this way – the cold should be on the outside.”

When asked, what people do to stay comfortable in their home, other than turn up the thermostat, respondents said:

1.    Wrap in blankets (48%) 
2.    Dress in outerwear (36%) 
3.    Use space heaters (31%) 
4.    Confine themselves to the warmest room of their homes (27%)

“Ironically, America is employing blankets and outerwear to insulate our bodies from our cold homes,” observed Richard Pedranti, Founder and Principal of RPA. “We should instead be employing 21st century building science so that our homes are always warm and comfortable without turning on the heat and using energy.”

Passive House Design Delivers Comfort All Year Long 
Passive House is the most stringent, low energy building standard in the world. Common in many European countries, Passive House takes advantage of super-insulated walls, internal heat gains and the sun coming through well-situated windows to produce the highest level of interior comfort available in a building today. Regardless of the weather outside, this modern approach to building reduces energy consumption 80 to 90 percent compared to a conventional home, and maintains a comfortable 68 to 72 degrees indoors all year-round.

Passive House also improves indoor air quality with a continuous supply of filtered fresh air. A ventilation unit transfers thermal energy from the air leaving the house to the fresh air coming into the house which maintains the homes temperature while circulating fresh air throughout the home every three hours or less.

Slightly over 200 people living in detached homes, townhouses and rowhomes in areas that experience a winter season completed the survey. RPA and Ecocor partnered with Passive House Maine to disseminate the survey.

Read more about energy-efficient home heating and cooling.

 


Topics: Building Green, Energy Audits, Geothermal Heating & Cooling, Going Green, Healthy Homes, Heating & Cooling, Insulation, Passive House, Remodeling


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