Skip to main content
Press Enter

Editor’s note: This article was originally published on September 27, 2021, by NAR GREEN Designees in their GREEN newsletter.

Did you know that according to the National Association of REALTORS®, “comfort” is the third most desired feature for buyers with 78% saying it's somewhat or very important to them? But what exactly defines “comfort” in a home and how do we achieve it?

Simply put, comfort is a state of physical and mental satisfaction with one’s thermal environment. It’s that Goldilocks feeling of not too hot and not too cold. What factors contribute to making a home comfortable?

  • Listing agents: If your seller’s home has any of the features I’m about to go through, fantastic! Don’t forget to market them.

  • Buyers agents: Be on the lookout for features like these as you visit property. They are the markers of a pleasant living experience (and lower energy bills).

Air sealing a home is the most frequent recommendation from building scientists, but this term hasn’t exactly captured homeowners’ imaginations, and many insulation contractors don’t talk about it. Here’s the thing, air sealing is the single most cost-effective home improvement you can do for comfort and energy savings. I didn’t put that in all caps, but was definitely tempted to. Air sealing is typically done with caulking and spray foam, and one can DIY some of it as well.

The US Dept. of Energy has a lot of useful information on air sealing. Contractors will use special performance testing equipment like a blower door when air sealing the home to ensure it meets minimum ventilations standards for health and safety. Air sealing lowers humidity in the summer, keeps bugs and the dust out, and gets rid of that drafty feeling many older homes have. It’s your #1 overall comfort improvement for the home.

If the home has a vented crawl space, another thing you want to look for is whether or not the crawl space has been insulated and air sealed. When it’s 15 degrees in December and your first floor is essentially hovering over outside air, it’s slipper time. Cold floors mean cold feet and other comfort issues. How do you know if the crawlspace is ventilated or not? Walk around the home and look at the foundation – if you see vents in it, it’s vented. You can open the crawlspace hatch to take a peek under the home too. If you see plastic on the ground and up the foundation walls and insulation under the floor, then likely the home has an encapsulated crawl – congrats on that feature. Encapsulating a crawl space will also improve humidity or mold issues, so there are many indoor air quality benefits that come with this home feature too.

What other features contribute to comfort? Proper ducting. Ducts are the plastic or metal tubes that bring heated and cooled air to rooms in the home. If they are not sized properly for the home and system, one will have comfort issues on both ends of the too hot and too cold spectrum. If they are not insulated or air-sealed and are in an unconditioned space (like an attic) there will also be comfort issues. If they are bent or otherwise restricted in some kind of bad installation way, can you guess what that means? Yes, comfort issues – and it won’t matter how fancy or efficient the HVAC system is.

My last big comfort tip is to make sure the home is up to or better than code when it comes to its attic insulation. There’s what code requires, though, and what ENERGY STAR requires. You can guess which one I’m going to recommend – ENERGY STAR. I recall one client telling me about his experience after getting proper insulation blown in his attic, he said “It’s like someone put a blanket on the home!” Yes, it is. And he’ll sleep much better at night with it.

Parting thoughts: we’re all familiar with the saying, your home is probably the largest investment you will ever make. Help your clients make it a good one! Advise them to buy or upgrade with comfort in mind and enjoy a better return on their investment as a result. Their home will be worth more, have better indoor air quality, and lower energy bills. My company, Pearl Certification works with agents and home sellers to identify the efficiency ratings and features that make a home high-performing and comfortable. Please connect with us for more information - Green Designees have a special program with Pearl that provides special discounts!


109411 HOMES CERTIFIED
135283 HOMES SCORED

Pearl Certification is transforming the housing market. We’re making a visible difference nationwide for homeowners and the businesses that serve them.