Energy Efficient Remodeling In Tallahassee

Diagram of the 4 control layers in a home from Fine Home Building magazine

Four ways of adding control layers to a wall. Image from Fine Homebuilding:

Energy Efficient Remodeling for a Comfortable Home

Remodeling for energy efficiency involves the whole home. Starting with your walls and 4 control layers: Water barrier, Air Barrier, Vapor Barrier and Insulation. Those 4 layers separate your home from the outside environment. 

Then you want properly sized HVAC systems, ERVs and whole home dehumidifiers to control the interior environment.  Finally you want to consider energy efficient appliances and fixtures.

It’s Really About Comfort.

Many people consider energy efficiency as a way to save money or protect the environment, both of which are important.

But energy efficent design also makes your home more comfortable, quieter and reduces the chance of bugs getting into your home. 

McManus Kitchen and Bath is a full service remodeling company with an in-house design team and showroom right here in Tallahassee, FL.

If you’re ready to invest in your home and want to work with a company that pays attention to details and provides excellent customer service, schedule a discovery call.

Key Takeaways

  • Hot and humid weather calls for specific strategies to make your home energy-efficient, healthy, and pleasant.
  • There are 4 contol layers needed for a comfortable home: Water, Air, Vapor and Temperature. 
  • Energy efficient homes also have the benefit of keeping out noise and bugs. 
  • If you want to get super nerdy about control layers check out the Building Science Corporation:

4 Control Layers For Energy Efficent Remodeling

Too often when we think about energy efficency we think ‘more insulation’. And more insulation does help but insulation is just one of the 4 control layers you need for a comfortable home. 

Control Layer 1: Water

Keep water our is job 1. It is the most important control layer in any home. The challenge is water is very hard to stop. Ideally your home is designed to shed as much water as possible but also dry quickly when it does get wet. 

Your homes siding and roof are a water control layer. So is your housewrap. Ideally there is a small space between your siding, roofing and housewrap that also allows for drying. 

Control Layer 2: Vapor

Another way water can get into a home is as a vapor. Vapor is impossible to stop, it needs to be controlled. You want your vapor barrier to be continuous all the way around the home and over the roof.

We need to be able to conrol the level of vapor (humidity) in the home and make sure it does not get trapped inside our walls or roof cavities. 

When excess moisture is allowed to get into the home, a lot of damage can be done. Moisture in the walls can result in condensation, mold and mildew growth, water damage to drywall, and more.

Air barriers also keep the hot air out and the cool, air-conditioned air in, meaning that your HVAC machine has an easier time fighting the Tallahassee heat.

Control Layer 3: Air

Air barriers in construction refer to a material or group of materials that work together to prevent air passage into the home. Air barriers and vapor barriers are often combined into one material (commonly called ‘housewrap’). Some house wraps are much better than others. 

You need a continuous air barrier and vapor barrier around your entire home… floor, walls, and roof. You also want to make sure and seal and penetrations in that air barrier from electric, plumbing and HVAC. 

Control Layer 4″ Thermal (insulation)

Properly insulated exterior walls and roofs can reduce your home’s energy consumption greatly. But they can be made innefective if the other control layers are not in place.

Good insulation ensures that the hot air stays outside and the cool air stays in. Exterior insulation, when installed properly, results in

  • increased energy efficiency,
  • increased comfort in your home for you and your family,
  • decreased humidity in your home (resulting in less mold and mildew),
  • better resale value for your home, and
  • cleaner air inside your home as outside pollutants and allergens stay outside.


There are different types of exterior insulation and the right type for your home depends on several factors like the thickness of your walls and your wall material. Some possible types you might want to consider are batt insulation, spray foam, rigid foam, or blown-in insulation. We are happy to talk with you about the pros and cons of each for your particular situation.

Under-Slab Insulation

Part of the home that is often overlooked when it comes to insulation is the slab itself. Adding insulation under the slab is a great way to help regulate the temperature and humidity in your home. It also gives the concrete a cushion, enabling it to expand and contract according to the temperatures outside, without cracking. Here’s how it works:

  • Before the slab is poured, several inches of gravel are added to the graded space, to help with drainage.
  • Then, a vapor barrier such as polyethylene plastic is laid down.
  • On top of the vapor barrier, the insulation (such as foam board) is installed.
  • Then the slab foundation is poured.

The under-slab insulation helps with thermal resistance and reduces moisture, and it’s a great option for Florida homes.

Triple-Glazed Windows

Windows are kind of a necesaary evil in homes when it comes to energy efficiency. We want the natural light and views they provide but even the best windows are not as energy efficient as a well insulated wall. 

Double pane windows were are great step up in efficiency and noise reduction. Now triple pane windows are becoming common.

These windows are made of three panes of glass with an inert gas such as argon in the space between each pane. The gaps and the glass work together to increase the window’s insulation capacity.

The glass is also coated with a low E coating which blocks the sun’s UV rays. Some companies boast that their triple-glazed windows are 79% more energy efficient than their single-pane windows.

As an added benefit, triple-glazed windows do a great job of reducing noise as well. Not only do the three panes and the gas in between the panes buffer the noise, but the panes are made of three different thicknesses of glass.

This means that each pane blocks noise at different wavelengths. If you live in a noisy area, these windows are for you.

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ERV stands for energy recovery ventilator. These systems are also known as ERV ventilation systems or air exchangers. They are incredibly useful for bringing fresh, temperature-controlled air into your home. 

Most people spend the majority of their time indoors. Unfortunately, several studies conducted by the US Environmental Protection Agency have shown that indoor air is generally two to five times more polluted than outdoor air, and can be as much as a hundred times worse. ERVs can really help solve this problem, especially in hot and humid climates like Tallahassee, Florida.

An ERV connects to the home’s HVAC system. It has two fans that pull fresh air from the outside and push stale inside air out. It also has a heat exchanger, which transfers heat and moisture between the two air streams. This means in the summer, it transfers the cool temperature from the inside air to the incoming outside air, and in the winter, it warms the outside air as it enters the house. A filter traps pollutants, contaminants, allergens, and more before they enter your home. 

An ERV will increase the lifespan of your HVAC by relieving it of some of the work it has to do. It will also make your home feel more comfortable by directing a large amount of humidity out of your home by putting it in the outgoing airstream. Another benefit of ERVs is that they lower radon levels in the home by as much as 75%.

Whole-Home Dehumidifiers

Anyone who has lived through a Tallahassee summer can tell you: it’s not the heat, it’s the humidity (okay, so maybe it’s also the heat). As the humidity soars, your home can start to feel clammy and damp. Too much water in the air can tax your HVAC, lead to mold and mildew in your home, and make it feel unpleasant. A whole-home dehumidifier might be the answer you’re looking for.

Dehumidifiers can:

  • reduce moisture and therefore mold and mildew
  • supply you with cleaner, healthier air
  • increase your comfort level in your home
  • make less work for the HVAC system which saves both money and energy

Dehumidifiers work by drawing air in via fans and blowing it over cold compressor coils. The air’s moisture condenses on the coils and drips into a reservoir. Air is then returned to the optimal temperature and blown back out. Generally, you can customize the amount of humidity that the dehumidifier removes, so you can make it optimally comfortable for yourself.

These Strategies Work

Remodeling in a hot and humid location like Tallahassee, Florida, has its challenges. But by employing these and other strategies, we can make your home as energy-efficient and comfortable as possible. We have been serving Tallahassee neighborhoods like Killearn Estates, Golden Eagle, Southwood, and more for over fifteen years. If you’re ready to get started on your home remodel, give us a call. We’d love to help you make your home everything you want it to be.

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