Energy Efficiency and the Stack Effect

Energy Efficiency and the Stack EffectThe stack effect is a term that refers to warm air movement and it’s important to know because it affects energy efficiency. If you’ve ever built a fire in a campfire ring, a wood stove, or a fireplace, you’ve probably seen the stack effect in motion. As the kindling burns, the air warms and the fire starts to pull air into it, creating a stronger draft. The hotter the air gets inside the burn chamber, the faster the fire pulls air into it.


The Stack Effect

The same thing happens in homes and buildings, especially when the air inside is warmer than the outdoors. When you open the door and the cold air rushes in, the stack effect pushes the warmer indoor air up to the highest points where it’s forced outside through windows, doors, or cracks and gaps in the exterior walls. As a consequence, homes and buildings lose conditioned air.

Oddly enough, the opposite occurs during the summer. The stack effect will push the cooled air in your home down from the second floor and out through cracks and gaps on the first floor. The stack, or chimney, effect gains momentum as the temperature falls outdoors, but it’s still important to consider its impact in the summer.

The demand for cooling in Corpus Christi exceeds the need for heating. Even though the chimney effect is subdued in the summer, the energy efficiency of homes and buildings fall in proportion to their air leaks. The only way to mitigate the effect is to seal all the leaks in the structure to eliminate air leakage.

How to Check

A professional energy audit is the fastest and most accurate way to assess our home, although you can perform your own by closely inspect the exterior of your home around windows and door frames to look for cracks. Once you know where they are, seal them with caulk, expanding foam, weather stripping and flashings.

Increasing home energy efficiency to minimize the stack effect will cut cooling and heating costs. To learn more, contact CCAC, Inc., providing HVAC services for Coastal Bend homeowners.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in Corpus Christi, Texas about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems). For more information about your HVAC system, download our free Home Comfort Guide or call us at 361-678-2495.  

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    David Mathewst David Mathews is the owner of CCAC Air Conditioning and Heating. A Corpus Christi native... More »