As the cold weather approaches, it is time to make sure you are ready for the change. I have not been able to do energy-audits this year due to my lack of availability and well, understanding science and respecting the severe nature of COVID-19. So I thought it might be useful to write a few blog posts to highlight some of the common places I find issues in homes here in the Valley.
The easiest place to make improvements in most homes is the attic.
If you have a pull down stairs or a scuttle access, take a peak into the attic. If you can see the ceiling joists you do not have enough insulation. (Note: if the attic has a plywood floor for storage, you will not be able to add insulation easily).
If your attic is vented (it should be if you have insulation on the floor of the attic), then you want to make sure the soffit vents are not covered up. This home has a rigid baffle to keep the insulation in place and the air from the soffit moving up into the attic. This is not the most effective way to design an attic, but that is another blog topic.
So how much insulation should you have in your attic if seeing the ceiling joists indicate that you don’t have enough? It depends on the type of insulation you have, but generally if it is fiberglass or cellulose you need a minimum of 12″ and it would be nice to have twice that amount. It should be even across the surface of the attic and should be clear of debris and moisture. The attic should be well ventilated including baffles to allow soffit vents to work and have a ridge vent to allow warm moist air to rise and leave the attic space. You should not be able to see the back of drywall, like in the photo above and it is best to have all ductwork and mechanical systems on the warm side (in the winter) of your insulated envelope.
If you want to make your energy bills as low as possible and your home as comfortable as possible, there are better solutions and more considerations. I wrote about what I did at my house here.
If you have questions about your specific conditions at your home that don’t fit this solutions (vaulted ceiling, no attic, mechanical system in unconditioned space, not sure what kind of insulation you have, no soffit vents, no ridge vent, black stuff on the surface in the attic) give me a call and we can talk. A video chat will go a long way to identify the solution your home needs. Seriously, give me a call, I love to talk about building science and the call is free to you. I want you to live in a comfortable home and reduce your energy usage – no strings attached.