A thermal barrier reduces thermal transfer between the interior and exterior air. Thermal barriers contribute to the effectiveness of a Home’s Heating and Cooling Systems. A good thermal barrier increases effectiveness and reduces the energy to operate Heating and Cooling Systems. A simple weather strip replacement can make a huge difference, but there are many other things that can be difficult to cure on your own. If you get a lot of condensation on your windows in the middle of winter they could be losing their insulating properties. Some older homes may not have any insulation while others may have improperly installed insulating systems. Testing with a Thermal Imaging Camera or a Digital Thermometer can yield a lot of information, but not always a precise answer. The entire exterior envelope has to be considered as there are multiple forces at work internally and externally. Air leaking past a door or window will usually be more noticeable than air leaking into your attic.
In the winter a Building Envelope is similar to a Hot Air Balloon. A Hot Air Balloon will come down quickly if the hot air inside escapes out the top cooling the internal temperature quickly compared to just letting it transfer through the surface. To go up or stay up air is heated at the bottom and captured by the Balloon. A Building Envelope should have as few leaks as possible to condition or reheat the interior air less often. The only drawback to removing all the leaks in the Building Envelope is getting fresh air to replace stale air. An Air to Air Exchange device will handle this and conserve energy by using the exhaust air to thermally precondition the intake air. Always remember appliances and systems that vent to the exterior need intake air called make up air to operate properly. Some heating systems have a sealed burner that has an exhaust and an intake vent to the exterior. Most dryers have an exhaust vent without an intake vent and rely on the exterior intake air vent for intake air.
Owners of older homes may have systems that are hazardous and not in use any more like Asbestos insulation on old furnace duct work. Also remember to use lead safe precautions when working on older homes built before 1978. Newer Homes generally have systems installed to meet the latest standards for building envelopes and some exceed them. There is always more than one way to improve your environment and save money so let a building professional show you options to add comfort and value to your home.