Conditioned Crawlspaces

Improving the energy-efficiency of your home

Conditioned Crawlspaces

During the summer, the Outer Banks are filled with sunshine and family fun.  But it’s also the season we crank up the air conditioning and our utility bills skyrocket. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration projects warmer temperatures this summer and the U.S. Energy Information Administration predicts an increased use of electricity for air conditioning.  So what’s a vacation homeowner to do?

The Coastal Cottage Company recommends researching conditioned, unvented crawlspaces as a option for improving energy efficiency. 

Despite the popularity of vented crawlspaces, many building professionals recognize that a conditioned, unvented crawlspace is the best option for homes in particularly warm and humid climates.  A conditioned crawlspace is constructed and insulated so that it is part of the conditioned space of the house.  

Conditioned Crawlspace
Image courtesy of Environmental Protection Agency

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, the Outer Banks’ summer air can increase moisture in crawlspaces.  Given the region’s high humidity, that moisture may not dry out and could cause condensation on cooler crawlspace surfaces such as floor joints, foundation walls, and air-conditioning ducts.  According to Peak Energy, this can lead to mold growth and dry rot.

Conditioned Crawlspace
In 2002, Advanced Energy studied a group of 12 houses in North Carolina. The 8 homes that had unvented crawl spaces had relative humidity that stayed less than 60% all summer.

According to the Building Science Corporation, benefits of conditioned crawlspaces include:

  • More efficient cooling and, thus, lower energy costs.
  • Decreased condensation and, thus, lower likelihood of mold growth.
  • Improved structural integrity due to less moisture.
  • Lower maintenance.

So when planning your Outer Banks vacation home, consider chatting with the Coastal Cottage Company about a conditioned crawlspace!

Blog by Jessica T. Smith

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