Do One Thing: Add Ceiling Insulation For All Seasons.

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Thanks to my friend Nan over at Desert Verde for sending along this idea for a Do One Thing post. If you want to easily and rather inexpensively reduce heat loss in the winter and keep heat out in the summer, there isn’t anything more effective than making sure your ceiling or attic is properly insulated. Be sure, though, to use one of the newer, safer insulation materials like blown-in cellulose insulation made from newspapers or recycled blue jeans. Here are some tips on insulation your attic space, fromEnergy Savers:

Before installing any type of insulation in your attic, follow these steps:

  • Seal all attic-to-home air leaks. Most insulation does not stop airflow.
  • Duct exhaust fans to the outside. Use a tightly constructed box to cover fan housing on attic side. Seal around the duct where it exits the box. Seal the perimeter of the box to the drywall on attic side.
  • Cover openings, such as dropped ceilings, soffits, and bulkheads, into attic area with plywood and seal to the attic side of the ceiling.
  • Seal around chimney and framing with a high-temperature caulk or furnace cement.
  • At the tops of interior walls, use long-life caulk to seal the smaller gaps and holes. Use expanding foam or strips of rigid foam board insulation for the larger gaps.
  • Install blocking (metal flashing) to maintain fire-safety clearance requirements (usually 3 inches) for heat-producing equipment found in an attic, such as flues, chimneys, exhaust fans, and light housings/fixtures unless the light fixtures are IC (insulation contact) rated. IC-rated lights are airtight and can be covered with insulation.
  • Make sure insulation doesn’t block soffit vents to allow for attic ventilation.
  • Check the attic ceiling for water stains or marks. They indicate roof leaks or lack of ventilation. Make repairs before you insulate. Wet insulation is ineffective and can damage your home.

This is a very important Do One Thing that can save you money, energy, and help reduce your home’s emissions. Good luck!

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  1. I would suggest finding out about the optimal amount of insulation for your area. For example, in my city R30 is the common amount, yet to be energy efficient we really need R48. I am glad that you mentioned not blocking the soffit vents, but I see many homes which forget that this passive method needs a ridge vent or vent in the field of the roof. The better the air flow going through your roof, the cooler your attic will be (and the longer your roof structure will last).

    Builders rarely insulate the entire attic. Any gap in insulation can be a drain on your efficiency. Attic doors are frequently a problem. After insulating, you can add a radiant barrier over the insulation. Further efficiency can be achieved by insulating air ducts, and then by painting your roof white or with another reflective paint (from experience, this can upset some neighbors though).

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