Quiz: Chicago is experiencing record-breaking heat this summer. What is the best thing you can do to cool down your Chicago real estate?
a. Install a bigger air conditioner
b. Install a smaller air conditioner
c. Seal air leaks around your home
The answer is not a. According to Corbett Lunsford, a building specialist with Green Dream Group in Chicago, most home air conditioners are over-sized by 50 to 100 percent!
The answer isn’t b, either. A smaller air conditioner can work fine and save you money on energy each month but, according to Lunsford, no air conditioner is going to work to its full potential without performing c. And it’s cheaper than investing in a new a or b.
“For less than the price of a big new A/C ($4000 avg.), you can get the analysis ($675 starting) and air sealing done ($2000 avg.),” Lunsford said.
So, why is this important? Well, warm air rises and cool air sinks. When you turn on your air conditioning, the cool air can escape through gaps, cracks and holes around your home, overworking your unit and making the top floor hot and humid.
The answer is not to turn up the A/C, it’s to find those gaps, cracks and holes and fix the leaks in your home’s shell, also known as the envelope.
Not only could homeowners save money by not investing in new air conditioning, they can prolong the life of their current unit by fixing the leaks in their home.
Lunsford recommends giving your home an “Energy Audit,” a comprehensive home performance analysis that includes insulation inspections, pressure testing, HVAC diagnostics and combustion safety testing. But Lunsford says that in his experience on hundreds of Chicago homes, “air leakage is the single biggest opportunity for improvement in any home.
“A comprehensive home performance analysis is not only the way to find and fix air leakage,” he said. “It’s a unique blue print for all future home improvements.”