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I invite you to explore my YouTube channel, where you'll see first-hand how insulation looks in dark and mysterious attics, crawl spaces, and basements scattered across Maryland. Witness first-hand how we tackle the unique challenges found in these hidden spaces, and gain valuable knowledge on how to conquer your own house.

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Residential Comfort & Energy Efficiency

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I invite you to explore my YouTube channel, where you'll see first-hand some of the issues we are out there fixing.

Monday, August 14 2023
Crawl Space Encapsulation: The Basics

Let's face the facts about crawl spaces.  They leave a lot to be desired.  

Most crawl spaces are difficult to access in most cases they are stuffy, dusty, and full of insects.

To make matters more complicated there are so many questions about how to properly seal and insulate an open crawl space.  For example:

When should crawl space vents be open?
Does an encapsulated crawl space need insulation at the ceiling?
How much does it cost to insulate a crawl space?
What is the best way to encapsulate a crawl space?
Do I need a vapor barrier in my crawl space?
What does it mean to seal a crawl space?

As an energy auditor, certified through the local Maryland utility, it is important to properly examine a crawl space in a number of different scenarios which can be complicated.  My method of simplifying the way I think helps me figure out the right solutions and explain them in easy-to-understand ways to the homeowner.  

The information below is common insights required to make an informed decision about how to properly treat your crawl space.


Old School Thinking:  I See Insulation Everything is Fine

If you live in a home on a crawl space there is a very good chance that you think that this just is the way it is and there is not much you can do.

When you first moved in you ambitiously went into the crawl and you saw insulation below the floor.  Everything seemed fine.    

Maybe you have never looked in the direction of your crawl space, or any crawl space for that matter, and have no idea what one may look like.

If that is the case, have a look at this video taken during a BGE energy audit of a typical open crawl space.


When Should Crawl Space Vents Be Open?

Open Crawl Space Vent Example

If possible, crawl space vents should always be blocked and sealed.  Crawl space vents provide virtually no benefit by being open.

Creating vent openings in the foundation wall were designed to allow "fresh" air into the crawl space for ventilation.  Millions of homes have been built using this method.

The problem is that you can't control what air moves into the crawl space and when it turns hot and humid or cold and dry, the open vent solution is not the best for climates that have seasonal changes like Maryland.

You cannot count on enough dry, average-temperature days in a row to sufficiently dry out the crawl space.  Additionally, considering the vents are typically not nearly large enough or often times obstructed, your crawl space does not stand much of a chance for success and as a result, your indoor comfort and air quality suffer and your energy bills are high.

Check out one common issue due to open crawl space vents.


Open Crawl Spaces: Two Seasonal Problems

Summer Humidity

Inside look at a crawl space vent.Open vents allow humid air into the space, or worse streaming water, which tends to get trapped and migrate to unwanted places. 

So many of us plug up our dehumidifier in the summer to keep the basement dry. 

Those with open crawl spaces likely have two machines working and they may not be able to keep up with the high humidity. 

Open vents in a crawl space can have a significant impact on indoor air quality and are the main factors in high indoor humidity levels.

Eighty percent of crawl spaces in humid climates have insulation that has fallen. Wood structural flooring components should not be subjected to moist, humid conditions for long periods of time.


  Get a comprehensive home energy audit today!


Winter Issues and How Physics Plays a Role

During winter months, cold winter air is actually pulled into the vents due to physical dynamics that are at play - known as the stack effect, or chimney effect.  Insulation is unable to prevent infiltration through the floor.

Negative pressure is created in a crawl space when it is connected to the living space above.  As warm air rises and finds places to escape, it tugs the cold air from below right on in as seen in the diagram to the right.

The unconditioned cold air that migrates into the crawl space through the vents is then conveyed up through the floor and walls and into your living space.  

Therefore, as a result of this physical characteristic of most buildings, having an open crawl space is not a good solution if you live in a location with a cold season.



If You Have a Crawl Space – You Have an Energy Efficiency "Point of Weakness"

Big problems with comfort and high energy bills stem from irregularities in the building shell.  Twists and turns in a home’s design create more complex treatment solutions in locations such as:

  • Porches
  • Roof Overhangs
  • Shafts for Chimneys & Pipes
  • Protruding Windows & Doors
  • Indented Windows & Doors
  • Cantilevers
  • Garages
  • Knee Walls
  • Open Basements
  • Open Crawl Spaces

Most of the largest leaks in homes occur where framing (such as floor joists or wall studs) spans from an area inside a conditioned space to an unconditioned or vented space, such as the attic, crawlspace, garage, or roof. Appropriate blocking is needed in these instances and it requires a team that knows home performance techniques and solutions to do it right.

Does A Crawl Space Need a Vapor Barrier?


Your crawl space needs a properly sealed vapor barrier.  Ground moisture will wreak havoc on your wood flooring, joists, and indoor air quality if left unchecked.  A fully encapsulated crawl space will always include a sealed vapor barrier.

Watch: Properly Installed Crawl Space Vapor Barrier


What to Look for In Order to Prescribe the Proper Treatment for an Open Crawl Space

No general rule should be applied to how to treat a crawl space. 

These three factors should be considered first:

1. Climate
2. Ground Dampness
3. Presence of Ducts in the Space

In Maryland, we tend to have hot, humid summers and sometimes it can be damp well into the fall.  The winters bring cold snaps, some longer than others, that can put a significant load on any HVAC system. 

Seasonal changes make sealing crawl spaces in our region a good option.  Typically, ducts are in crawl spaces in homes where this foundation type exists.

Crawl space inspections will require defining the best place to establish or re-establish the thermal boundary.

The thermal boundary can be described as the location that divides the inside living space from the outside, unconditioned space of your home.

Most crawl spaces are outfitted with insulation at the ceiling.  And, most crawl spaces are sources of energy loss and comfort problems.


If I Have Insulation in My Crawl Space Ceiling, Why is it Such a Problem?

In order to understand any high-performance crawl space insulation retrofit, you must first understand the three key things that getting results depends upon:

  1. Proper Installation of an Air Barrier
  2. Proper Installation of a Sturdy Vapor Barrier
  3. Proper Installation of Insulation

Typically, all three key factors are missing in a crawl space.

If not properly sealed, penetrations at the crawl space ceiling (floor inside) will lead to communication of air between the two areas.

A vapor barrier is only good if it is 100% sealed, otherwise, moisture will still migrate up and into your living space.

Fiberglass batting insulation is difficult to install in almost all applications.  The thermal performance of batt insulation is heavily dependent on proper installation.  To attain maximum R-value, the batt insulation should be in continuous contact with all the surround cavity surfaces where they are installed.  They need to be cut exactly to length because if they are too long they bunch up leaving the area to be insulated and exposed and if too short, spaces are created that promote convection.


Open Crawl Space vs. Encapsulated Crawl Space

Past research has shown that a conventionally vented crawl space that has been converted into a non-vented and conditioned space tends to operate similarly to houses with basements, with several benefits for the homeowner: 

• Energy savings
• Comfort
• Moisture control
• Long-term durability
• Healthier air quality

Open crawl space with insulation at the ceiling and an improperly installed vapor barrier.


Watch: Take a Look at a Completed Crawl Space Project Including Blocked and Sealed Vents

Reasons Maryland Homeowners with Crawl Spaces Might Not Choose to Encapsulate

  • Significant efforts can be made with ease to seal and insulate ducts, air handlers, water heaters, pipes etc.
  • Lacking any paid heat source, the crawl space is consistently between ground temp and outdoor temp which is typically above 32 degrees
  • The floor has had significant air sealing and insulation work performed already; some investment has taken place
  • The cost to seal and insulate the floor is considerably less than encapsulation for some reason

A Big Opportunity That Often Gets Overlooked

Too often the ducts that are running through crawl spaces are asked to do way too much. 

Not only do they need to carry conditioned air to the furthest reaches of your home, but in some cases they are expected to transport 90-degree air through a duct that is supercooled to 25 degrees on the coldest of days.

Sealing a crawl space from the outside can drastically improve the performance of your HVAC system and will contain duct leakage because the immediate barrier outside of the ducts also plays into the amount they leak.

For example, ducts that run through an open crawl space will leak much more due to the pressure dynamics compared to an encapsulated crawl space.

How to Properly Encapsulate a Crawl Space

It is important to not begin a foundation insulation retrofit project until it is well-drained and dry.  Drainage should be the priority if the crawl space recurring takes on water.

Next, the crawl space should be free of debris and items that might impede the ability to install a vapor barrier.  A thick plastic vapor barrier should always be installed in crawl spaces with dirt floors.

The vapor barrier should be sealed to the walls, piers and any other penetration from the ground.

Crawl space walls should be air sealed and insulated (typically by using a rigid foam board with high R-value) all the way up to the rim joist.  The rim and band joist should be air sealed and insulated.


Do you live in Maryland and need advice on how to treat your crawl space?

If you are interested in making your home more comfortable and more efficient, give me a call.  We can discuss your situation and likely getting a BGE or Pepco Energy Audit is the way to go.  

Incentives through the program can be quite advantageous, particularly for those that know that they have to get this problem resolved once and for all. 

Furthermore, an energy audit can uncover other factors that can contribute to your specific issue as each home is different - even the same model across the street.

Give me a call!  I'd love to help you out!

energy audit maryland

Written by Eric Gans
I have over 2000 energy audits under my belt in Maryland.  I like to take my personal experiences with each of my audit customers and try to get the things that concern them out into the world so others can make good home improvement decisions - in the right order - according to their needs.

Thursday, April 27 2023

Understanding the R-Value

It is important to measure insulation through a slightly different lens. Rather than focusing on which insulation is better, it is more important to achieve the recommended R-value for specific areas of your home's shell.

There are two important things to familiarize yourself with as it relates to R-value.

1. The R-Value in "Lay" Terms

We measure insulation by its R-value. 

Insulation has one job - to resist heat flow.  The higher the R-value, the better the insulation resists the transfer of heat. 

maryland insulation r-value

Attic insulation can have a huge impact on your comfort, energy bill, and HVAC performance.  A well-insulated attic can make an old heating and cooling system seem like new.

Attic insulation in Maryland homes is key to comfort each season.

Summer: Attic insulation keeps the hot attic air from getting inside.

Winter: Attic insulation prevents the warm inside air from escaping.  

The attic is the most important place to insulate first. Other areas should also be treated such as basements, overhangs, and crawl spaces.


2. Maryland Insulation R-Value Chart

You can use this later to compare to what you currently have.


Attic Flat
Ending R-value of 49 or as space allows
Attic Slope
Ending R-value of 38 or as space allows
Vertical Wall
(basement, crawl space, knee wall)
Ending R-value of 11 or greater
Crawl Space Ceiling
Ending R-value of 25 or as space allows
Below Cantilever
Ending R-value of 25 or as space allows
Rim Joist
(top of foundation wall in basement)
Ending R-value of 19 or greater

Determine what Type of Insulation You HaveMaryland Attic Insulation Types

Different attic insulation materials and levels yield wide-ranging R-values. 

So, it is first important to determine the type of insulation that is in your attic. 

Typical Insulation Materials Found in Maryland Attics

  • Fiberglass batts
  • Loose-fill fiberglass
  • Loose-fill cellulose
  • Mineral wool
  • Two-part spray foam 

Identifying the Most Common Maryland Insulation Types

Cellulose Loose Fill

General Characteristics

  • Grey in color
  • More dusty and clingy than other materials
  • Has bits of newspaper in it
  • Good fire/mold retarder w/ additives

loose cellulose insulation r-value

Rolled Fiberglass Batt Insulation

General Characteristics

  • Typically referred to as batt insulation
  • Has the kraft paper or aluminum foil on one side
  • Recognizable due to the "Pink Panther" commercials
  • Must be installed flawlessly (unforgiving)
  • Low R-value per inch if not installed properly

fiberglass batt insulation r-value 


Maryland Attic Insulation Company


Fiberglass Loose Fill

General Characteristics

  • Typically white shreds, pink squares or yellow shreds
  • Much less dusty
  • Lower cold weather performance than cellulose

Insulation code Maryland

Home Insulation Contractor Maryland

Determine Your Attic Insulation's Condition

The condition of the existing insulation in an attic is also important. Obtaining the information will assist in generating a reliable return on investment reporting. Current conditions can also reveal clues about future comfort gains.

R-value can be misleading if several factors are not met:

Your insulation should get a rating of "poor", "moderate" or "well" insulated.

Attic Insulation in Poor Condition

Insulation with large gaps and voids.  Missing insulation greater than 2% of the insulated area.

Example of Poor Insulation Coverage



Attic Insulation in Moderate Condition

Insulation with defects and gaps around wiring, electrical outlets, plumbing, and other intrusions. Rounded edges or "shouldered". The amount of fill is incomplete, but rarely dips less than 30% of the intended thickness. Gaps and spaces running clear through the insulation should be no more than 2% of the insulated area.

moderate insulation coverege



Well Insulated Attic Characteristics

The insulation has no large gaps or voids around obstructions. The insulation appears to fit in any cavity side-to-side and top-to-bottom. The insulation appears to be around wiring and other services in the area.

a well insulated attic diagram

Different Insulation Types & Conditions = Different R-Values

The values for the corresponding condition of your attic insulation can be multiplied by the number of inches you have to see where your attic falls on the scale.


  • Loose Fill Cellulose
    New: 3.60 R-value per inch
    Existing Well: 3.60
    Existing Moderate: 3.13 R-value per inch
    (Example: 6" = R19; 10" = R31)
    Existing Poor: 2.7 R-value per inch

  • Fiberglass Batt Insulation
    New: 3.14 R-value per inch
    Existing Well: 2.67
    Existing Moderate: 2.10 R-value per inch
    (Example: 6" = R13; 10" = R21)
    Existing Poor: 1.26 R-value per Inch

  • Loose Fill Fiberglass
    New: 3.14 R-value per inch
    Existing Well: 3.14
    Existing Moderate: 2.73 R-value Per inch
    (Example: 6" = R16; 10" = R27) 
    Existing Poor: 2.36

How Much Does Insulation Cost in Maryland?

Home Energy Audit Maryland



Watch a uniformly blown cellulose attic insulation job in progress!













Maryland Insulation Rebates

How the Insulation Program Works

Maryland Utilities (BGE & Pepco) offer a portfolio of programs promoting energy efficiency and conservation, including rebates, education, and services.  The program is designed around a consultative approach.

Air sealing and insulation are considered the most important measures to complete to achieve energy efficiency - before windows, doors, and replacing older HVAC.

The initial qualifier for rebates is to get a home energy audit. 




Maryland Residents Learn More About the Inflation Reduction Act Here



Take the Next Step

Schedule Now!

Don't hesitate. Schedule online. Only $100 in the end. 

Hometrust offers the official Maryland home energy audit offered through BGE and Pepco in coordination with ENERGY STAR


Get a home energy audit & get questions answered such as:

Why is the room on the front of the house colder?
Do you have enough insulation?
Why is it so stuffy upstairs during the summer?
Should I remove old insulation from my attic?
Why does my HVAC run all of the time?
Is spray foam insulation the best solution for my home?
Why are my new windows feeling drafty?
Do my walls have insulation?


Wanna know more about the home energy audit process?

maryland home energy auditor eric gans

Energy Audit Guides

-2023 BGE Energy Audit-

-2023 Pepco Energy Audit-


Do you need an energy audit?

Check your house for any of these 5 signs...

A home energy audit is the GPS of home improvements...

home energy audits provide guidance towards making good home improvement decisions

Turn-by-turn directions to better comfort & energy efficiency.

Schedule yours today!


Back to Top


Thursday, April 27 2023

Un-insulated Areas Play a Heavy Hand in Poor R-Values

Now let's go a little deeper and explore the impact of un-insulated surfaces. It may surprise you how important having an even blanket of insulation is for getting a great result.  

If you notice any area in your attic that does not have insulation then pay attention to the information below!

This typical Maryland attic is a great example of what the impact of missing insulation can have.

maryland attic insulation code

The attic area in the home pictured above is 975 square feet and flat (R-49 recommended in Maryland).

attic insulation code for maryland

You will notice 1" of blown-in fiberglass insulation and 7" of rolled fiberglass batting laid on top.

In this scenario, the attic has roughly 8" of insulation in "most" of the areas that need it. Later you will learn how to use the depth to determine the R-value.  In this case, the attic is R-17...

But, there is a catch!

There are two major un-insulated areas in this attic (very common in Maryland attics). 

1. A three-foot by three-foot push up hatch
2. A three-foot by three-foot whole house fan

Equaling a total of 18 square feet of un-insulated area on the attic floor. 

This equates to just about 2% of the attic area (18 divided by 975).

Maryland attic insulation   
Typical hallway push-up hatch leading to an under-insulated Maryland attic.  Watch how a hatch gets treatment.

attic insulation code for maryland

The hatch from the attic has a plywood cover (seen in the background)

attic insulation Maryland

Whole house fan is seen from the attic.

With the use of the HOME ENERGY SCORE CALCULATOR, we are able to calculate the impact un-insulated surfaces have on insulation performance.

The picture gets clear!

r-value for attic insulation

What ends up happening with this common scenario is not good. A mere 18 square feet of missing insulation has a big impact. The expected R-value reduces down from 17 to 13 for the entire attic!

That translates to hot summer nights and cold winter drafts and high energy bills to pay.

insulation r-value chart


According to Dr. Allison Bailes of Energy Vanguard, the heat flows through the bare areas fast. Based on his article, the air leaves in the un-insulated ceiling area are as much as 38 times faster than in the insulated areas.


Be sure to measure your attic insulation in a precise fashion. Different areas that have different levels should be separate. Each area will get an R-value assessment. Along with knowing the condition, this weighted average calculator can then help you determine your attic's R-value.


Thursday, April 27 2023
Attic Insulation Maryland  - Winter Guidance 2023

Written by Eric Gans, Building Analyst & Envelope Professional
I'm a certified energy auditor and insulation contractor in Maryland. I have completed over 2000 energy audits and taken over 2000 trips to an attic.

eric gans certified energy auditor



Maryland Home Insulation Guide


An under-insulated attic is the #1 reason for poor home comfort and high energy bills. Use this guide for Maryland home and attic insulation solutions.

Well-Insulated Attic
3 Characteristics


1. No significant gaps
2. Fits in any cavity 
3. 13-18" Depth


a well insulated attic diagram

well insulated attic Maryland climate zone 4


Does that look or sound like your attic insulation?

Not likely...ENERGY STAR says 9 out of 10 homes are under-insulated, and everything I see in Maryland attics proves it. 

According to a recent Forbes Magazine article, there are approximately 124 million houses in the United States, and roughly 20% were built before 1980. Older homes mean older, outdated methods of insulating that don't measure up to today's standards. 

So where do you begin? This guide can help. It will answer many of the questions homeowners have about insulation.



Whole-House Assessments 
🌞 Seasonal Guidance ❄️ 
Insulation Guidance Tools
Is Insulation Worth It? 
Which Insulation Is Best?
💵 How Much Does Insulation Cost?
Home Performance Solutions
Maryland Rebates & Tax Credits  ℹ️ 



learn how to measure your attic insulation level today!


If your home is older than ten years, then you are likely not meeting the 2023 Maryland home insulation building code. If you see insulation, it does not mean it is working for you.

You gotta know what to look for...

The State of Maryland recommends that our attics have enough insulation to equal R-49.

Existing insulation in a Maryland attic is inconsistent for a variety of reasons. Air sealing and insulation are essential for a tight, energy-efficient home.


Maryland Insulation Contractor


Get a Whole-House Energy Assessment
Start Your Journey



If you know you need insulation services in Maryland and are looking for a logical next step; it might be a good time for an energy audit.

Feel free to set up your Home Performance with ENERGY STAR® energy audit now and then bail out of this guide.

If you are not sure, I recommend exploring the resources below. You can learn more about the BGE and Pepco Programs. The $100 assessment can help you navigate to a more efficient home:

 Home Performance with ENERGY STAR® Reporting (Video)
-Getting a feel for how the energy audit report works and what it measures can make the "lightbulb" go off!

 BGE Energy Savers and Pepco Energy Savings Program
-Learn about how the program works to help Maryland homeowners find the right solutions.

 Approved BGE and Pepco Contractor (About Us)
-From window contractor to Building Science student - experience in the field shines through.

 Find YOUR Pathway - Dial In On Your Comprehensive Energy Audit
-Getting an energy audit is the first step in a successful journey towards improved home comfort and lower energy usage.

 5 Signs You Need a Home Energy Audit 
-Homeowners can use these five signs around the house to determine if a home energy audit is worth the investment.

 Example Energy Audits Based on the Style of House 
-Examples include Cape Cod, Colonial, with Garage, Rancher

 Home Energy Audit Takeaways - Short YouTube Series 
-Thirteen episodes do a great job of taking you through several insulation scenarios, including treatment and results.

Summer & Winter Insulation Guidance

Attic insulation can significantly impact your comfort, energy bill, and HVAC performance.  A well-insulated attic can make an old heating and cooling system seem new.

Insulation will gain your respect on an extreme weather day! Attic insulation in Maryland homes is vital to comfort each season.

Summer: Insulation improves a home's defense against the heat in several ways. Check out these resources to help you keep cool when the heat rises:

 Controlling Hot Upper Floors 
-Learn about modern air sealing and insulation techniques in Maryland that can help you improve hot upper floors during the summer.

 Ways to Maximize Your HVAC Performance
-In Maryland, HVAC ducts should be sealed and insulated if they run outside of the living space.

 Reduce Indoor Humidity 
-Learn how to avoid blaming the wrong source and spending money on the wrong solution.


Winter: We place caps on our children's heads on a cold day to keep the heat from escaping, and we need to do the same to our homes. Check out these great ways to change the trend and get a hold of always being cold:

 Preventing Rapid Heat Loss 
-Attic air sealing is one of the most effective ways to improve home comfort and energy efficiency - learn the basics.

 Improving Indoor Air Quality 
-Learn about the relationship between indoor air quality, air changes per hour, and energy efficiency for your home.

5 Things That Are Not So Obvious to Help with A Cozier Home 
-Use these 5 do-it-yourself tips in 2023 to improve comfort and reduce energy bills. 

 Get All Of Your Rooms Back! 
-Check out how this family strived toward a comfortable addition, but the effort fell short and was unusable in cold months.  


Insulation Guidance Tools

Tool # 1 The R-Value Calculator
Use this helpful tool to determine your current attic R-value and get a feel for where your protective barrier stands against current recommendations.


You need to take two steps for this tool to work.

STEP 1: Get Your Attic's Current R-Value

Tasks Required

1. Determine the type of insulation you have in the attic now.

2. Determine your current insulation level in inches and note any areas (up to three) with major level variants.

3. Determine the condition of your current insulation.

STEP 2: Calculate Your Attic Area

Tasks Required 

1. Measure the length and width from below for any attic area to calculate the square footage. 

2. Note the exact square footage of any area with different insulation levels (up to three). Use a laser measure to make it easy!

Once completed, you will be much closer to knowing if you are up to the Maryland building code and ENERGY STAR.

Tool # 2 The Home Self-Assessment
Use this survey to determine if getting an energy audit is worth the money.


If you are like most, chances are you do not want to visit your attic and dig around.

A better way to get your insulation checked is to get an energy audit.


Is Getting Home Attic Insulation Worth It?

The insulation your attic needs will depend on how much is there now. Getting it right will ensure you earn the best return on your investment (ROI) and meet the 2023 Maryland building codes.

This can be a little tricky. Calculations can be off if the information is not gathered right. The condition, coverage, and depth of the insulation are each important.

Take notice if you have any area in your attic that does not have insulation. 

One example is 18 square feet of uninsulated area in a 1000-square-foot attic. It reduces the R-value. Missing insulation will lead to comfort problems and high energy bills.


According to Dr. Allison Bailes of Energy Vanguard, the heat flows through the bare areas fast. He says warm air leaves in the un-insulated ceiling area 38 times faster than in the insulated areas.

To learn more about this common insulation problem, look at this article about how uninsulated areas play a heavy hand in poor R-values.


Which Insulation is Best for Maryland Homes?

Maryland Attic Insulation Types

It is essential to measure insulation through a different lens. Try not to focus on which insulation is better. Instead, please focus on the proper R-value, especially for the places where it is most important.

There are two things to know about R-value:

1. How to Measure R-Value

Insulation has one job - to resist heat flow. The higher the R-value, the better the insulation resists heat transfer.

2. How R-Value Requirements Change

As your home's features twist and turn, insulation requirements change. R-values decrease in less critical areas. 

For example, a knee wall created by a sloped ceiling needs less R-value but a knee wall does require special care and attention in other ways.

Knee walls are common in Maryland.


Check out this comprehensive article about attic insulation requirements and understanding the R-value, particularly for Maryland houses.

The attic is the most important place to insulate first. Other areas should also get treatment, such as:

 Basement Insulation (Video) 
-Properly sealing and insulating a basement in the right places can yield excellent results.

 Overhangs/Cantilever Insulation (Video) 
-Properly insulating a cantilever in Maryland requires a contractor that is familiar with siding, insulation, and carpentry.

 Crawl Space Encapsulation
-Modern air sealing and insulation techniques can turn a dark crawl space into the reason your home is more comfortable.

Typical Insulation Materials Found Around Maryland Houses

  • Loose-fill cellulose
  • Fiberglass batts
  • Loose-fill fiberglass
  • Mineral wool
  • Two-part spray foam 

The values for the corresponding condition of your attic insulation can be multiplied by the number of inches you have to see where your attic falls on the scale. Learn how to determine your attic insulation type, condition, and current R-Value.

Batt Insulation: Prevalent and, unfortunately, the worst performer.



How Much Does Insulation Cost?

Home Performance contractors look for insulation fixes in existing homes that will make the most impact for the lowest cost. Accessible areas are first priority and usually the most important. Investigation and testing play a role in helping to shape solution decisions. Taking this approach will factor in the overall cost.

Here are important considerations if you plan to insulate your home:


 Insulation Misperceptions & Incorrect Solutions 
-Nobody likes to go down the wrong rabbit hole when fixing a problem.

 Building Pressure Boundary 
-Don't skip a step to save money by adding insulation without sealing first.

 Building Thermal Boundary 
-Do you really need to pay to remove the insulation before adding more?

 Skilled Building Science Technicians 
-Hiring a contractor with certifications and experience is essential and worth the investment.

 Testing & Measuring Results (Video) 
-Home Performance contractors use sophisticated equipment to measure results for calculated ROI.


Home Energy Audit Maryland


Intro to Home Performance


ENERGY STAR® says to look at the many systems around your home. Evaluating the "whole house" can lead to better comfort and efficiency. Their stats show that 9 out of 10 homes in the U.S. are under-insulated.

According to the EPA, existing houses have several opportunities for energy-efficient improvements. Many discoveries go beyond replacement windows and cost less than windows.

Home Performance Categories:

 Attic and Whole Home Air Sealing 
-Air sealing the right places in your home will improve comfort and lower your energy bills.

 Attic & Basement Insulation 
-Insulation, in tandem with air sealing, are a dynamic duo that will solve hot rooms and cold drafts.

 Crawl Space Encapsulation
-Learn about why making a crawl space like the San Diego climate without the sun is the way to go.

 Whole Home and Attic Ventilation 
-A well-installed bathroom exhaust fan in Maryland should include testing and venting to the outdoors.

 HVAC Duct Sealing and Insulation Improvements 
-Duct leakage assessments to stop condensation issues and improve the HVAC system's overall efficiency.

 IECC New Construction Energy Compliance Testing
-Air leakage testing requires a certified and experienced technician to comply with Maryland's new construction energy codes.

 Exterior Insulation Solutions 
-Overhangs and other odds and ends.


Maryland Rebates & Tax Credits

How the Insulation Program Works

Maryland Utilities (BGE & Pepco) offer a portfolio of programs promoting energy efficiency and conservation, including rebates, education, and services.  The program is designed around a consultative approach.


Air sealing and insulation are considered the most critical measures to complete to achieve energy efficiency - before windows, doors, and replacing older HVAC. The initial qualifier for rebates is to get a home energy audit. 

Get a home energy audit & get questions answered, such as:

Why is the room on the front of the house colder?
Do you have enough insulation?
Why is it so stuffy upstairs during the summer?
Should I remove old insulation from my attic?
Why does my HVAC run all of the time?
Is spray foam insulation the best solution for my home?
Why are my new windows feeling drafty?
Do my walls have insulation?

Learn much more about the programs designed to help YOU

 How to Unlock Maryland Utility Rebates 
-Learn how to correctly insulate your Maryland attic and unlock 2023 BGE and Pepco rebates.

 Attic Insulation Rebates for BGE Customers 
-Qualifying for BGE energy rebates depends on an energy audit through the Home Performance with ENERGY STAR Program.

 PEPCO Customer Attic Insulation Rebates
-Pepco energy saving rebates are unlocked after getting a comprehensive energy audit.

 Inflation Reduction Act & Maryland Homeowners 
-Maryland residents can learn to use the new Inflation Reduction Act.

 2023 Complete BGE Energy Audit Guide 
-Get All YOUR questions answered with this comprehensive guide about all things related to a BGE home energy audit.

 Complete 2023 Pepco Energy Audit Guide 
-Learn more about all things related to a comprehensive Pepco home energy audit.


Tuesday, April 11 2023
Cool Solutions: How to Beat the Maryland Heat on Your Upper Floor

Energy auditor and window specials

Written by Eric Gans

I am a student of Building Science. I'd like to help you assess how well the different parts of your home are working to see how likely you are to beat the Maryland summer heat. 

Maryland homeowners turn to their HVAC contractors when the temperature inside heats up.

But, after HVAC people install the machine and controls, it stops there. They have very little to do with the comfort level in your home.

It's a good practice to focus on the shell around your home. A well-sealed and insulated shell can play a big part in properly controlling the climate inside your living space on a hot summer day.

You need to know:

  • What is the shell?
  • Where is the shell?
  • And, what condition is it in?

The good news is that often, the shell is easy to fix.



What is the Shell of Your Home?

It is where the inside touches the outside on the six sides of your building.

The location of your home's shell can vary. When you determine its location, you have to look for two things.

First, a pressure boundary or tight seal to stop airflow. Second, and more familiar to most, is the thermal boundary. The correct amount of insulation must exist to slow the transfer of heat.


The shell of a home is on six sides. Wherever your home touches the outside, you must protect it with a proper shell.

Never assume the location of your home's shell without a little investigative work. You can have two homes that are exactly the same and each might have a different shell configuration.

The big secret in Building Science is to address the shell where it is most important and easiest to access. This includes attics, crawl spaces, basements, and unfinished walls.

Don't be afraid to get an energy audit if you want someone to check it for you. An energy audit is a great way to have a professional assess your home's shell.

In this article, we'll explore the following topics:

The goal is to help you beat the Maryland summer heat and transform your home into a refreshing oasis.

Why are the Upper Floors So Hot?

Hot Maryland Summer Living

As the weather heats up, I visit Maryland homes to perform energy assessments and the scenes are usually the same.

The houses I inspect have large openings to the outside. Sealant and insulation are missing. Sometimes it is in bad condition and installed wrong. The problems are quite common in Maryland homes, new and old.

Older Maryland homes have older construction concepts. As a result, large gaps and voids have gone unchecked for decades. New builds are often times insulated wrong because nobody knew any better.

Check out this long YouTube video where an energy audit was performed at a new build (2018) and you can see first-hand.

A large unsealed pathway around the furnace chimney in a 1970s attic. Like an open window 24/7-365.

The fact is, attics and crawl spaces do not get the love they need. As a result, they will not be up to the challenge that awaits them. A hot Maryland summer can overcome the often weak defensive systems I see.

Although the area of an attic is not traveled, it is a harsh environment. It needs upkeep and improvements. Building codes and techniques for insulating have changed. Especially in the last ten years.

But, don't sweat! It does not have to remain this way. There are many solutions available to Maryland homeowners. You can address these issues and cool down the upper floor of your home!

Anyone in Maryland can get an energy audit for $100. It is through the BGE and Pepco Home Performance with ENERGY STAR® program.

Negative Effects of a Warm Home in Summer

A hot upstairs can be a real drag. When the upper floor is hot and uncomfortable, it can make it difficult to relax, sleep or even work. The constant discomfort and lack of proper rest can lead to increased irritability. It can affect one's stress level and quality of life.

Besides, a hot home can make it harder to enjoy indoor activities. Cooking, watching TV, or spending time with family and friends is too much.

Hot upper floors increase energy costs. Homeowners need to rely on air conditioning more to achieve a comfortable temperature.

If that is not bad enough, a hot upper floor can also affect the resale value of the home. If a buyer perceives the upper floor to be uncomfortable it can reduce the value of the property.

Misconceptions: Accepting Hot Upper Floors & Attic Fans

A common misunderstanding is that this is the way it is and there is nothing that can fix the problem.

So many Maryland homeowners accept this way of life. Some adapt to it by moving their bedrooms around the house during the different seasons. It is the only way they can maintain comfort and get the rest at night that they need to function.

Many I meet rely on decreasing the heat in the attic by adding ventilation. They are hopeful it will help with the situation inside the house. Unfortunately, it doesn't work. The attic will still get too hot and with weak defenses, heat will seep in.

You also have to be careful with attic fans installed on the roof or in a gable. You don't want to contribute to your problem. If the house is not sealed from the attic the pressure will draw your cool through existing holes.

Watch a demo of this in the video below.


A hot upper floor can have a negative impact on a homeowner's mental and emotional well-being. It can also reach into your finances and home value. Taking steps to address the root causes of the problem can enhance your quality of life. You can finally have a strategy to win!

What You Need Around the House to WIN! Summer

A hot upper floor in a Maryland home is a common recurring problem. It is due to our hot and humid summers combined with inadequate insulation defenses.

When working to keep your home cool in the summer, you have to check the different parts of the TEAM against summer.

Here are five members that are a big part of the winning strategy and each has to be at the top of their GAME!


  1. Insulation - The most important is the attic. If not insulated, heat gains a direct path to your living space. It radiates into the attic and through the ceiling. This can result in a hot and uncomfortable upper floor. Energy bills are higher due to the increased use of air conditioning

  2. Air sealing - There are gaps and cracks around your house. Examples include light fixtures, walls, vents, and ducts. If not sealed, they allow hot air to enter the upper floor, while cool air escapes. This can disrupt the temperature balance and make it harder to cool down the upper floor

  3. HVAC duct leakage - If not sealed, it may struggle to cool down the upper floor.

  4. Ventilation issues - A lack of airflow can make an upper floor feel stuffy and uncomfortable.

  5. Solar heat gains through windows - Maryland summers are sunny and hot. As a result, radiant heat will beam through windows. Allowing it will make it difficult to regulate the temperature inside.

Examples of the Problems that Lead to Hot Upper Floors

Insulation Problems
Many of the homes I visit that suffer the most in summer have missing insulation. Many also have raised, sloped ceilings which create vertical walls in the attic. Jammed insulation into a vertical space in a harsh environment is not good. Usually, with nothing holding it in place, it is less than effective.

It falls or sags, leaving large gaps in coverage that cause rapid heating on upper floors.

missing attic insulation maryland
Missing insulation on a knee wall in a Maryland attic.


Shell Air Leakage
Excessive air leakage between the inside and the outside creates an uncomfortable home. A big problem in the summer is humidity. Sealing the house and reducing outside air infiltration helps to keep it dry inside. Dry inside air helps to maintain a more comfortable home on each floor.

HVAC Duct Leakage
If you have any HVAC ducts running through your attic or crawl space it is a good idea to get them assessed. According to ENERGY STAR data, as much as 20-30% of the air that moves through your duct system will get lost due to leaks. A duct assessment takes place during an energy audit.

In typical homes, 30 to 40 percent of the air that moves through ducts is lost due to leakage.

Importance of Proper Ventilation
Most exhaust fans in Maryland bathrooms turn on and make a lot of noise, but rarely do they work. Older models are awful at pulling out moisture after a shower. Fans that are working usually blow moisture into the attic. This contributes to the moisture content and makes it more difficult for the HVAC to keep up.


Close Window Shades & Blinds
Solar gains through clear windows contribute to uncomfortable indoor temperatures. You don't need new windows with a special glass package to solve the problem.

Shades or a film should cover windows in the locations that get the most sun. Southern and western-facing windows are the most important. 

Modern Air Sealing and Insulation Techniques

The best defense against heat is an insulation strategy. Oftentimes, insulation exists in some form. Inspectors and homeowners check the box, and sight unseen. Insulation is not the thing people dream about when it comes to home improvements.   

Insulation’s job is to slow the transfer of heat. When the heat in the attic builds, weak insulation will fail. Guess where the heat will go? Yep, into your living space making things uncomfortable.

Before any attic gets more insulation, it must be air sealed. Air sealing the gaps, cracks, and crevices around the attic will ensure two things. First, the insulation can work to specification. Sealing will also keep the warm, humid air from being able to enter the upper floors.

Air Sealing Examples

Air sealing and insulating ducts around your home should be a priority. Sealing ducts that are outside is a fantastic opportunity. Doing so will help to send more cool air to the places you want it to go.

Often overlooked, the common bathroom exhaust fan has a huge role to play. Moisture lingers after showering if you allow it to do so. This will increase humidity and make it harder to cool the upper floor.

New high-performance bathroom exhaust fans are a game-changer. New fans move a large volume of air super fast. They are also quiet. Keeping the air dry inside your home during summer is a key to success.

Additional DIY Solutions

If you don't have a big budget at the moment, don't worry.

There are several other things you can do around your home to begin to get your upstairs back.

  • Keep blinds and curtains closed during the day, particularly in the rooms that get the most sun.

  • Air seal larger, easy-to-reach gaps and cracks around your basement and attic. Be sure to use foam sealant.

  • Use ceiling fans in the rooms you are occupying, turn them off in rooms, not in use.

  • Upgrade to a smart thermostat that can track your habits. It can help track movement around the house to improve comfort and efficiency.

  • Keep an annual HVAC maintenance schedule for a check-up to keep things working well.

  • Locate the seams, gaps, and cracks in your HVAC ducts. Check closest to the air handler and seal them with high-quality duct sealant.

  • Insulate and seal the attic hatch or pull-down stair leading to the attic.

  • Look at your filter slot cover at your inside air handler and check that it has a cover and seal.


Filter Slot Cover Example Video

Hot upper floors can be a frustrating and uncomfortable problem. Maryland homeowners should know that better comfort is not insurmountable.

Drilling down to the root causes of the problem will help you enjoy a cool and comfortable living space. Poor insulation, air leaks, and an inefficient HVAC system are all priorities. Assessing these areas will give you the answers you need.

A great way to beat the Maryland heat is to get a comprehensive home energy audit.

A professional auditor can help you identify energy-saving opportunities. With energy savings comes comfort as well.

how to beat the Maryland summer heat

So don't wait - take action today and start your journey towards a cool and energy-efficient home.

A shameless plug! Get an energy audit today!


AI helped me with this blog post by taking my desire to produce an article that will help my fellow Marylanders create a cooler home for the summer and organize a framework with some context to convey my general message which is, with a little knowledge and investigative work, you can take a systematic approach to solving comfort issues and create a more efficient home.


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