Expensive heated air or cooled air is constantly escaping from our homes in Spain giving rise to discomfort, high energy bills, and speeding up climate change.
Regardless of how much or what type of insulation you put into your home if you fail to ensure that the fabric is airtight your comfort and energy efficient expectations will never be fully realized. As well as allowing costly warm (or cooled ) air to escape, air leakage degrades the effectiveness of insulation by as much as two thirds, and also allows damaging moisture to enter the structural fabric of the building. This is very energy inefficient.
We need ventilation to provide a healthy living environment but uncontrolled air movements are not the answer. Ventilation needs to be controlled and deliberately induced using open-able windows, trickle vents, heat extract fans etc. Most Spanish homes have too much air leakage when it is windy and not enough ventilation on calm, still, days . Remember draughts are bad, ventilation is good.
The requirement for better quality homes to meet stricter airtightness targets is not yet widely appreciated by the Spanish construction industry. Business as usual will not suffice. Most Spanish builders have still not grasped the nettle and learnt how to construct and finish airtight dwellings and other buildings.
Leakage can occur in many places such seals around doors and windows and boxed in services, where cables and pipes enter the home, where electric sockets, light fittings, thermostat controls and the like are located.
Structural leakage may occur at joints in the fabric of the building, cracks in masonry, and diffusion through materials. These are the hardest to retro fix so good detailing at the design stage is essential.
Builders also need appropriate training so they understand how to build air tight buildings. There is no culture of airtight construction on Spanish sites and until this is achieved, such as it is in Scandinavian sites, detailed planning and preparation and rigorous site supervision will be essential to achieve satisfactory comfortable energy efficient homes.
Author: John Wolfendale
Bio: John is a founder of Eco Vida and is passionate about bringing modern design and construction practices to Spain. He believes a home which is warm in winter and cool in summer is largely a matter of design and selective use of materials. He is British and a Chartered Surveyor with 18 years experience living and working in Spain.