Household energy efficiency and the attic located above are strongly related. Heat energy transfers from a warmer zone to a cooler zone, so an overheated attic in summer conducts heat through the ceiling into cooler rooms below, increasing temperatures by as much as 10 degrees and causing the A/C to run longer cycles. In winter, a frigid unsealed attic space functions as an enormous heat sink that draws warmth out of your house and the furnace has to compensate.
How to Improve Energy Efficiency and the Attic
Improve the relationship between energy efficiency and the attic by tackling three home improvements:
- Upgrade attic insulation – Roll-out fiberglass batts or mounds of loose-fill cellulose are the two most common attic insulation materials. New layers can be added on top of existing insulation. Here in the Charlotte area, the Department of Energy (DOE) recommends upgrading fiberglass attic insulation to a depth of 9 to 18 inches and cellulose to 8 to 15 inches.
- Seal air leaks – Air leakage in or out of the attic carries heat in or out of the home. Using caulk and weatherstripping, a homeowner can economically seal cracks and gaps that allow air exchange with the attic. The long joint between the ceiling and walls can be caulked, along with any openings around the perimeter of ceiling light fixtures that recess into the attic.Ceiling penetrations for plumbing and air vents are another caulking opportunity to stop air leakage. Use adhesive weatherstripping tape to seal around the mating surfaces of the attic access hatch or pull-down stairs.
- Optimize ventilation – Unsealed attics require adequate ventilation to moderate acute temperatures and prevent damaging condensation. Make sure soffit vents in the attic are unobstructed and that ridge or gable vents are adequate. In most climates, one square foot of vent opening is recommended per every 300 square feet of attic floor space.
For more information about the link between home energy efficiency and the attic and how it relates to your greater Charlotte area, contact Ross & Witmer.