We rely on our HVAC systems to keep out the harsh heat and cold. But even the most energy efficient air conditioner or furnace will fall short without the proper amount of insulation and air sealing.
1. Your attic is key
If you have to choose one area to insulate, choose the attic. Your attic is subject to extreme temperature swings in both summer and winter. Yet, it’s relatively easy to reach (compared to the inside of your walls), and can save you the most money when insulated.
Insulation reduces the air movement in your attic and its resistance to heat flow is measured in thermal resistance or “R-value.” The higher the R-value, the greater the insulating power.
The recommended insulation level for most attics is R-50 or about 12-16 inches, depending on the insulation type.
2. Check the attic ceiling for water stains
These will indicate roof leaks or lack of ventilation. Repairs should be made immediately to prevent damage to the house. Wet insulation is ineffective and can damage your home.
3. Your attic needs ventilation
Improper ventilation can lead to ice dams and trapped moisture, damaging your home and ruining insulation. The most common mistake homeowners make when working in their attic is blocking the flow of air at the eaves. Never cover attic soffit vents with insulation. Rather, use rafter vents and soffit vents to maintain airflow.
4. Don’t neglect the hatch
A home’s attic entrance (hatch, pull-down stairs, or a knee-wall door) is often uninsulated, so insulating the attic door can greatly reduce energy costs.
In a country like ours, it’s well worth the effort to ensure that you have adequate insulation and ventilation in your attic.