07 Feb 7 Tips For Making Your Attic More Energy Efficient
Last updated 8/28/2019
For home improvement enthusiasts, there is always a way to add to the well-being of your home.
For professionals and “do-it-yourself-ers” alike, a great way to add to the health of a home lies in improving its energy efficiency. The energy efficiency of a home is a telltale sign of the whole-home health, and making sure that heating and air-conditioning are circulated and contained is key.
And while there are many places in the home to improve energy efficiency, the attic is one of the most crucial pieces of this energy efficiency puzzle.
To make things simple, we’ve put together a list of ways to make your attic more energy-efficient.
So let’s get right into it.
1. Start With the Attic Access
One of the easiest places to start to make your attic more energy-efficient start is the entrance — the attic access itself.
Whether you have an attic hatch, a scuttle hole, or both, sealing and insulating the access point to your attic can be simple, but also save you from excessive air leakage. Weatherstripping the area around the attic door removes the small gaps, especially at the front end of attic hatches where air is prone to leak out and cause attic drafts (read more on stopping attic drafts here).
Another easy action to take would be to utilize foam sealant. Attic accesses often have small gaps from original attic installation that cause air penetrations.
One other option is to install an attic access insulation cover. While placing fiberglass insulation on top of your access is certainly an option (and doable with some caulk and foam board), an attic access insulation cover can often be more reliable, while also maintaining easy access.
Installing attic access insulation can ensure that the air in your attic stays in the attic, and the air below stays where it should. Keeping these two separate helps to contain heating and air conditioning which helps save on energy costs month over month.
2. Improve Overall Attic Insulation
The second way to make your attic more energy-efficient is an extension of the first. Take the approach used to improve the attic access to the rest of your attic, and apply the proper insulation to your attic interior. Some of the most useful attic insulation materials include:
- Mineral wool
- Reflective (more on that later)
Take a look at the current state of your attic and establish what you’ll need. Are your studs, joists, rafters, and beams insulated already? If not (or if insulation is poor), fiberglass or mineral wool may be the best option. Is there a lot of hard-to-reach spaces? Consider adding loose-fill cellulose.
There are also other signs that insulation is insufficient.
For example, in the winter, it can be easy to tell if it’s colder than it should be in your attic. When you have an attic with weak insulation, your ceilings below may feel colder.
And when you step outside when there is snow, take a second look at those icicles hanging from the roof — they could be a sign of ice dams, and ice dams can signify cooler temperatures in the attic.
Expert Tip: when improving insulation, make sure you consider R-Value. Learn more about R-Value here and see an easy way to start the process for choosing the right attic insulation.
3. Check Your Attic Ductwork
Keeping insulation in mind, you will definitely want to make sure your attic ductwork is not leaking air (if you have them in your attic).
For homes with ductwork in the attic, energy efficiency is extra difficult to maintain. Ducts in the attic are prone to leaks and often leak air conditioning into the attic. They tend to have weaker insulation (they often have low R-Values) and consequently, you waste the home-comfort from your heating and air-conditioning on the attic’s air instead of your living space air.
Ideally, homeowners should avoid having ducts in their attic. Though, for some people, this is simply not practical. Either they have living spaces in their attic or the original homeowner thought it best to put the ducts up above.
In these cases, insulating the ducts is the solution. You may want to look into getting some spray foam. If practical, you can also look into removing the ductwork from your attic to the conditioned spaces of the home.
4. Use Appropriate Air Sealing
Like insulation, air sealing will help keep your attic air where it’s supposed to be — in the attic.
Some common places where air sealing is needed include:
- Gaps around windows
- Cracks in ceiling
- Gaps around the attic access
- Gaps around recessed lights
Oftentimes when sealing is needed, using caulk or foam sealant can do the trick.
5. Check Your Attic Ventilation
Poor ventilation in your attic can often cause a domino effect when it comes to energy efficiency (as well as overall home health). Improper ventilation in the attic can often lead to moisture buildup which leads to damage to siding, columns, and walls and can also lead to the growth of mold. You need to keep your attic dry by letting the moisture escape rather than letting it build up.
So if you want to get rid of pollutants, maintain good air quality, and increase your attic’s energy efficiency, a consistent airflow in the attic will help with your efforts.
One additional way to improve airflow and increase air quality is to install a solar attic fan.
6. Use Solar Attic Fans
Installing solar attic fans helps to regulate the air in the attic.
Similar to the benefits that ventilation has on airflow, attic fans will pull the moist air from the attic and help your attic maintain healthy circulation.
When the weather is hot, fans will expel heat and maintain a consistently beneficial exchange of air between the attic and the outside air. When it’s cold outside, attic fans will work much the same. However, the main advantage of attic fans in the cold is that they will also expel moisture from your attic.
Powered by the sun, solar attic fans increase the air quality and airflow of the attic, but also provide homeowners with an additional level of energy efficiency. Many electric powered attic fans offer little to no energy savings because the improved cooling is often negated by the increase in energy costs which are needed to power the fan. Solar attic fans that are 100% powered by the sun offer the same cooling benefit while conserving energy.
Just remember to seal and insulate your attic first. An attic fan without proper insulation will keep the air flowing, but it will simply result in air leakage without the right sealing and insulation.
7. Install Multi-Layer Reflective Installation
Multi-layer reflective insulation helps to decrease radiant, conduction, and convection heat transfer in the attic.
For those looking for a simple installation that easily boosts the energy efficiency of their attic, reflective insulation will do just that. It is also complimentary of the other methods of improving attic energy efficiency — advantages of having reflective insulation in the attic include:
- Consistent R-Values
- Decrease of heat transfer
- Increase of thermal efficiency
- Maintains temperatures in the living space below attic
Applying to the Entire House
When you have the proper knowledge and are prepared to take action, having a more energy efficiency attic is just a matter of time.
As mentioned at the beginning of this article, the attic is just one part of the house that has an impact on the energy efficiency of the whole house. While many common sealing, insulation, and ventilation issues occur in the attic, the opportunities to improve energy efficiency in the home are abundant.
Luckily, many of these concepts can be applied to other parts of the home. For instance, reflective insulation can be applied to walls, ventilation can be similarly improved in the basement to avoid excess moisture, and there are hidden air leaks that can be fixed with sealant or weatherstripping all around the house (like around your wall outlets).