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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Durable Airtightness in Single-Family Dwellings: Field Measurements:


Durability of building envelope is important to new homes that are increasingly built with improved levels of airtightness. It is also important to weatherized homes such that energy savings from retrofit measures, such as air sealing, are persistent. We presented a comparison of air leakage measurements collected in November 2013 through March 2014, with two sets of prior data collected between 2001-2003 from 17 new homes located near Atlanta, GA, and 17 homes near Boise, ID that were weatherized in 2007-2008. The purpose of the comparison is to determine if there are changes to the airtightness of building envelopes over time. The air leakage increased in all but one of the new homes, with a mean increase of about 25%. The weatherized homes also showed an increase in the mean air leakage (12%). We performed a regression analysis to describe the relationship between prior and current measurements in terms of normalized leakage (NL). The best estimate of the aging factor predicts a 15% increase in NL over ten years. Further analysis using ResDB data (LBNL’s Residential Diagnostic Database) showed the expected changes in air leakage if aging were modeled. These results imply that we should examine the causes of increased leakage and methods to avoid them. This increase in leakage with time should be accounted for in long-term population-wide energy savings estimates, such as those used in ratings or energy savings programs.

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