Frequently Asked Home Energy & Comfort Questions
- How much insulation should I get in my attic?
In Maryland, the following guidelines for insulation should be followed: flat attic area R49; sloped attic area R38; kneewall R13; rim joist R19; floor R25. back to top
- Why is the floor so cold in our new addition?
There could be several reasons for this, but likely the reasons are tied to the foundation and improperly installed insulation. Investigation is required to determine the exact reason. back to top
- Why is my closet always so hot in the summer and cold in the winter?
Do you have an attic access hatch or stairs in your closet? This issue happens to homeowners all over Maryland. Your neighbors all have the same issue. If you don't have a hatch, then there is something else going on. back to top
- Can installing siding help with my insulation problem?
Generally, no. Most of the gains that are made from installing insulation are having to do with treatment to the attic and basement. Siding can provide some benefits to the overall "tightness" to a house, but the main reason for replacing siding should typically be for protection and aesthetic reasons. back to top
- Why was it so cold in my basement last winter?
One typical reason for a cold basement during the cold Maryland winter months is an untreated rim joist. There might be insulation at the rim joist, but that does not stop the infiltration of cold air that is caused by pressure dynamics in the house. Have an audit done to find your cause. back to top
- Why is my energy bill so high in the winter even though my basement is so cold?
Another reason for a cold basement is a leaky dryer vent or other penetration through the rim joist to the outside. If this goes unchecked, it is equal to leaving a window cracked in the basement all winter. back to top
- Why is my basement duct showing condensation on hot Maryland summer days?
The location of the duct should first be taken into consideration in relation to any penetration that would allow warm, humid air to infiltrate into the area of the duct, causing it to "sweat". back to top
- Why is the electricity bill so high in the summer?
Typical reasons for high summer electricity bills in Maryland would be poor insulation levels around the home, thermal bypasses in the attic, disconnected HVAC ducts, un-insulated HVAC ducts that run outside of the living space (crawl space, attic). A home insulation assessment can determine the reasons for high bills. back to top
- I have replaced my windows and my HVAC, can insulation really make a difference?
The answer to this question is that as much as 40% of a homes air leakage and energy wastes is through areas at the attic floor and in the basement/crawlspace. Installing insulation using the correct methods for the Maryland region will make a big difference in comfort and make your HVAC last much longer because it won't have to run as long. back to top
- Why does the energy bill seem very high for the size house I live in?
Typically, what we find when Maryland homeowners ask us this questions is insufficient insulation and no air barrier installed around the envelope of the house. Uninsulated HVAC ducts that run outside of the conditioned space also are big offenders when it comes to high energy bills for smaller footprint houses. back to top
- What is the best way to treat our crawlspace?
Maryland summers are humid and Maryland winters are cold. Having an open crawl space with improper insulation installed at the crawl space ceiling is a recipe for comfort issues and high bills. Encapsulation for a Maryland crawl space is the way to go! back to top
- Why does BGE keep saying I am using more energy than my neighbors?
Typically the reason homeowners are finding this letter in their email is due to not having proper insulation levels and no air barrier in place. Have lots of recessed lights is also a possible reason for using more energy than neighbors if the recessed lights have not been sealed properly at the attic floor. back to top
- Why is my back bedroom warmer that the rest of the house in the summer?
Reasons for bedrooms that seem warmer in summer than other parts of the house are typically uninsulated ducts that supply the room or disconnected ducts that supply the room. Other reasons could be wind washing from air getting into the soffit too rapidly and causing an uneven area of insulation. An attic assessment can solve this issue. back to top
- Why is it so hot upstairs during the summer months?
Sometimes the design of the home and the type of attic contribute to the reasons for having uneven temperatures on different floors during summer. An assessment of your attic and the insulation level and method should be checked by a professional. back to top
- Is there a way to validate whether the windows are the reason for having high energy bills?
A blower door test is the way to go to solve the reasons for high energy bills and comfort issues. An assessment of insulation around the house is also a good way to figure out which part of the house is the worst offender. back to top
- What is the reason for my high humidity levels in the summer?
Typical culprits for high summer indoor humidity in our Maryland summers are untreated recessed lights, attic access points that are not properly sealed, lack of insulation and no air sealing. back to top
- Why are my energy bills still high after adding insulation?
Likely the thermal boundary was addressed (insulation) and not the pressure boundary (air sealing) and as a result your insulation is not as effective as it could be otherwise. back to top
- Why is the area around my kitchen sink so cold in the winter?
A recurring reason that we see cold kitchen sink areas in Maryland during the winters is due to the construction style of the house. Sometimes the kitchen is made larger or extended with a cantilever and if not properly treated, it can be the source of cold air infiltration. back to top
- How can I make the temperatures throughout my home more even?
In Maryland, the best way to regulate temperatures throughout your home is to treat the basement or crawl space and attic with air sealing and insulation. back to top
- Why has my BGE bill increased by so much in one month?
One reason for a drastic change in an energy bill amount might be if a BGE customer switched suppliers recently and got a good deal, but did not read the fine print and the price increased without warning. back to top
- Why is my home still drafty after having my windows replaced?
Maryland homeowners replace windows all of the time in hopes of solving drafts and high energy bills. The true reason for drafts is related to building pressure and a homeowner should always look to the top and the bottom of their home for the answers. back to top
- How can I improve the overall energy efficiency of my home?
Older homes with unconditioned basements or crawl spaces with HVAC ducts that are not insulated is one opportunity for huge energy savings if treated properly. back to top
- Is there a way to improve the air flow of my AC in the summer?
Yes, sealing accessible ducts, insulating ducts outside of the living space and general upkeep and maintenance of the HVAC system can improve air flow. back to top
- Why is the closet in my bedroom so cold all of the time during winter?
One big reason for this issue is that the untreated attic access hatch or stairs are placed in closets and they are huge offenders when it comes to air leakage. Other reasons might be light fixtures, poor insulation or other thermal bypasses that can be found in attics. back to top
- Will I ever be able to be comfortable in my basement or my loft?
The answer is YES! With proper insulation, air sealing and HVAC sizing it is possible to experience comfort on all levels of your home. back to top
- Do I need to replace my roof plywood if I have mold on the attic side?
The answer to this question is that if you control the humidity problem in the attic that is causing the mold then you no longer have to be concerned about the issue and as a result the mold will no longer be toxic and you do not have to spend the extra money. back to top
- How can I lower my BGE bill and make it more predictable each month?
The best way to get control of your energy usage is to understand the things that are costing you the most. If kneewalls, rim joists, top plates, thermal bypasses and air sealing are somewhat unfamiliar to you - get a BGE energy audit for $100 and unlock the answers. back to top
- Is there a way to make the upstairs less hot without having to add a new HVAC unit?
As with any retrofit, there could be inaccessible areas or areas that are impossible to treat, but as a general rule the answer is yes. There are usually several contributing factors to warmer upstairs temperatures in summer and there are ways to fight back! back to top