One of the greatest breakthroughs of our time is the LED lamp. Their ability to provide plenty of beautiful light with very little heat enables us to eliminate the recessed lighting penalty of air leakage associated with this light from our current batch of incandescent bulbs. LED lamp replacements for recessed lighting fixtures are so cool that they can release all their heat into the living space safely as opposed to the intense heat of incandescent bulbs, which must typically be released into attics.
The home that made this blatantly obvious to me today is quite tight as a structure - so tight in fact that its overall air change per hour rate as measured by blower door instrumentation indicates a current household air change rate so slow that the structure requires (and has in place!) mechanical ventilation attached to its air-handling system in order to integrate fresh air into the living space to meet code requirements and Building Airflow Standards.
In spite of this tightness, the leakiness is still causing drafts in the wrong parts, and the current performance falls far below homeowners' comfort expectations. Cold main floor in winters and hot second floor in summer are additional homeowner comments indicating performance issues after draftiness.
Insulation levels are quite good in attic, kneewalls, sidewalls, floor and ducts. Windows are quite effective also; doors are insulated and tightly fitting. Furnace is condensing gas-fired 90% efficient unit. Water heating is also gas, and both are located in garage, outside living space. A tankless water heater is in the mid-term plan to replace large tank model. Crawl space below house is vented with ground cover in excellent condition as a vapor retarder. Water pipes and ducts are insulated in crawl.
Air leakage, however, streams INTO living space and disrupts comfort levels with outside air in winter from penetrations around the gas-fired fireplace, through penetrations in floor and electrical outlets/plumbing chases on the first floor. On the second floor complaints center around the large tub in master bath, but with blower door in operation, the 15 can lights in the ceiling also indicated a likely path of some 22 feet of air path - into the living space at lower level, and exiting UN-noticed through 15 can lights into a vented attic. The leakage is minimal, but is having maximum impact on comfort.
The solution is air sealing the gas fireplace area, the penetrations for plumbing and the big one – the can light replacement that stops the flow OUT! LED replacements are a hot seller at the local home stores. Since a major LED manufacturer –Phillips – dropped its suggested retail pricing on a 65 watt replacement (10 watts in LED) from around $60 to $25 last Earth Day, the market has been trending lower and lower, much to the delight of lighting specialists and art aficionados everywhere. LED lighting is dimmable, variable and free of mercury – the heavy metal that makes compact fluorescent lights (CFLs) bright today, but an eventual problem when their time is up.
LED lamps provide all the color and light, almost none of the heat, no heavy metal residue AND a chance to eliminate the huge gap in our ceilings to upgrade comfort. LED lamps are the replacements you are waiting for, and prices are dropping.