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Online Calculator to Evaluate the Impact of Airtightness on Residential Building Energy Consumption and Moisture Transfer



Niraj Kunwar, Som Shrestha, Andre Desjarlais, Gina Accawi, Lisa Ng, Laverne Dalgleish


Energy consumption in residential buildings is primarily driven by space conditioning applications. Space heating and cooling, on average, consume approximately 50% of the energy in the residential buildings in the U.S. The primary energy use due to infiltration is more than 2.8 Quads (2.95 EJ), which is 29% of primary energy consumption attributable to fenestration and building envelope components in residential buildings in US in 2010. There are advanced air barrier technologies and construction practices to reduce air leakage in buildings, which are currently available in the market. However, the lack of adequate information on their impact on energy consumption and the durability of buildings has caused the slow adoption of these technologies and construction practices. In the past, the authors developed an online calculator that estimates the potential energy and cost savings in major U.S., Canadian and Chinese cities from improvement in airtightness in commercial buildings. The calculator is being expanded by adding residential and additional commercial building data. In this paper, we present the impact of airtightness in residential buildings on energy consumption and moisture transfer. The study includes the analysis of airtightness in 52 major cities in the U.S. and 5 cities in Canada on a residential building that includes a crawlspace and has a gas furnace. The results of impact of infiltration on energy consumption and moisture transfer is provided. In addition, example of the regression coefficients calculated from these results are provided which were used in the air-infiltration calculation tool. By decreasing the air leakage rate of the building such from 13 h-1 to 0.6 h-1 at 50 Pa (0.00725 psi), the reduction in electricity consumption was up to 9% for climate zone 8 and the reduction in natural gas consumption for space heating was more than 40% for a majority of the climate zones . The moisture transfer due to infiltration was also reduced by at least 70% in all the climate zones when reducing the air leakage rate from 13 h-1 to 0.6 h-1 at 50 Pa (0.00725 psi).
Conference Dates
December 5-8, 2022
Conference Location
Clearwater,, FL, US
Conference Title
Buildings XV Conference


infiltration, energy modeling, moisture transfer, residential buildings


Kunwar, N. , Shrestha, S. , Desjarlais, A. , Accawi, G. , Ng, L. and Dalgleish, L. (2022), Online Calculator to Evaluate the Impact of Airtightness on Residential Building Energy Consumption and Moisture Transfer, Buildings XV Conference, Clearwater,, FL, US, [online], (Accessed April 17, 2024)
Created December 5, 2022, Updated March 20, 2024