Apr 07 2016

Is a drafty attic costing you money? The short answer is yes, because continuous air movement, no matter where it comes from, makes it difficult to maintain a steady temperature. The result is a Bluffton, South Carolina, home with a poorly designed thermal envelope and high energy bills. Fortunately, there is a solution to fix this problem and seal the envelope. Consider these energy-saving tips that will help you secure your attic and save money.

What Is the Envelope?

You probably hear HVAC technicians and home improvement gurus refer to your home’s envelope. This is simply a way to separate the air inside from the atmosphere outside. Your heating and cooling equipment work using temperature sensors. If you want more conditioned air, you turn the thermostat down to get it. The sensor in that thermostat measures the air temperature and turns the AC on if it is too high or off if it is too low.

Drafts make this system less effective. When a hot breeze moves across that thermostat, it may cause the AC to turn on even though the room is plenty cool. Sealing your home creates an envelope that eliminates drafts. If you have tight seals and no drafts, your house has a good envelope, while homes with drafty attics have a poor thermal envelope and, as a result, higher than necessary energy bills.

Managing the home envelope is tricky because you want tight seals but still need a certain amount of ventilation. Your goal is to find a balance and it starts with looking at problem areas like the attic.

Closing an Attic With Blanket Insulation

One of the biggest culprits ruining home envelopes is the attic. Holes around chimneys, attic windows, floor boards, and wall joints all allow the outside, unconditioned air to come into your home and affect the room temperature. The first step for most attics is to add insulation.

Blanket insulation is the easiest to install. It comes in rolls that you lay across the wood beams to create a better seal. Since not all attics are the same, blanket insulation is a flexible choice, as well. You can cut it down to fit most spaces, even if oddly shaped. Once in place, the insulation prevents heat transfer, keeping cool air in and hot air out.

Closing an Attic With Filler

Filler is a type of insulation used in attics that already have blanket product down but are still drafty. Filler comes in large bags and looks like blanket insulation cut up into pieces. You use it to patch open areas in the existing insulation the same way you might patch a pair of jeans.

Closing the Small Leaks

Attics come with a number of small leaks, too, such as wall joints that don’t quite line up and openings around window sills. You can tear a small piece of blanket insulation to fill these cracks, but a simple fix is to cut up a garbage or plastic bag to cover the holes.

There are products designed just for these small leaks, as well. Try an expanding foam product to seal the area around pipes, for example. There is also aluminum flashing made to fit around the flue.

How to Pinpoint Leaks

When upgrading the attic, start with the big leaks first. Plug stud cavities, gaps behind knee walls, and other obvious holes. Once you fill the large leaks, take a second look around the attic for the smaller problems, because even small, hard-to-notice air leaks can cost you money. Check around electrical connections like sockets and light fixtures. A little silicone caulk will close them right up. Other places to double-check include the following:

  • Pipes
  • Vent stacks
  • Ducts
  • Access hatches

When checking the entire home for leaks, start at the top, or attic, and move down, going room to room until you hit the basement. This will make sure you cover all areas of the house and seal as you go.

If you have questions about your air conditioning bill or how to close the envelope around your house, give us a call at (843)474-0075 and make an appointment.

Image provided by Shutterstock

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