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Put a blanket on your house!
I recently peeked up in my attic to find some disturbing things. The insulation was ripped off the duct work and there was a hole in the duct from one of the previous owners crawling over it. The previous owners had moved phone lines around and added recessed lighting in one of the bathrooms and never put the insulation back so there we several spots that had no insulation. On top of that someone in the past had paid someone to blow extra insulation in the attic but the contractor only blew insulation around where you could see when you stuck your head up there.
I repaired the ducts and wrapped them with foil faced insulation from Home Depot which made an immediate difference since I wasnít heating the attic anymore.
I started looking for deals on insulation and doing a little research on how much insulation should be up there. For my area (Chicago) most recommendations were between R-38 and R-50 in the attic. You can lookup your recommended R-values here. I found a rebate on insulation and ended up adding R-25 on top of what was already there which got me to about R-50. It took me one day to roll out a whole layer of insulation up there. It wasnít very much fun because itís a real tight space and I definitely recommend getting the encapsulated stuff if you are doing it yourself so you donít get covered in fiberglass. But the difference was immediate, no more cold and drafty areas upstairs and the next months heat bill had a nice surprise. Although it was colder in December 2007 than it was in 2006 my Natural Gas usage dropped nearly 30% which lead to a nice savings.
Adding insulation to your home can be an easy weekend project which will conserve energy and conserve some cash. I spent about $400 on insulation and saved $60 on my first monthís gas bill. The insulation will more than pay for itself in a few months and will continue to save me money in heating and cooling bills for as long as I own the home.
Hereís some additional reading on the benefits of insulating you home better: Insulation Fact Sheet
I also recommend watching the newspaper or checking online for rebates or sales. Iíve see deals for rolls of insulation at buy one get on free. Some power and gas companies offer rebates and you may be eligible for a tax credit for the money you spend on adding insulation to your home.
I found the same thing in my attic. Whenever contractors or electricians have to go into the attic they generally move the insulation and then don't put it back, leaving bare spots. I plugged up the bare spots and noticed a difference immediately.
Yeah, I just wish I would have looked up there sooner! I wonder how wide spread this problem is...
Greener People for a Greener World TM
I work for a remodeling company. Sometimes we recommend that our customers pay to blow insulation in hard-to-reach areas that we are working in anyway. It doesn't add much cost to the project and it saves people the hassle of doing it themselves.
So...if you are energy conscious, look into cellulose (sp?) blown-in insulation. You don't need to pay a contractor to do this process it is EASY. The material is cheap and made from mostly recycled materials. It comes in $10 blocks from Home Depot and they will rent you the blower. It is very easy to do yourself: depending on thickness, it takes about an hour or so to cover a large room attic-space. You can go over old insulation if you like.
It's also cool because you'll see a lot of ground-up plastic shopping bags in the mix. Best part is that it doesn't make you itchy!
Great insulation tip
Thanks for the tip on blow insulation! I had no idea that was possible. Definitely going to look into it.
Should help with your cooling as well. I would also suggest you add an attic fan to vent your attic and keep it from getting too hot in the summer. They come in both electric and solar powered versions although I would suggest the solar powered because they don't cost anything to run, very easy to install, and pose no risk of fire. These are real popular in area's like Hawaii so I don't know why they haven't caught on stateside.
I already have 3 roof vents
They seem to do a pretty good job. It was 110 and 108 on successive days here and only on the second day did it finally get above 88 in the house at about 7pm. I'm still thinking of renting that insulation blower from Home Depot to put in even more insulation. Probably not until next fall though. Also wouldn't I have to cut another hole in my roof to install an attic fan? I don't like that idea.
Kamwb, take everything I say with a grain of salt, because I'm obviously in the business of selling these types of things but here's what I know. I stongly encourage you to surf the net to find other perspectives.
There are way too many factors on a roof that determines how much an attic fan may or may not help. If your house has been built since the mid to late 70's there's a pretty good chance that the ventilation ratio that was used was 300:1, meaning that for every 300 cubic feet of air in your attic, that you have 1 square foot of ventilation area. Depending on the experts you site, this can result in compounding of heat in your attic. Compounding is why the attic air is able to get hotter than the outside air. Other factors can include the insulation blanket that started off this forum, shingle color (the lighter the better), and the type of venting (ridge vent, gables, thru-the-top).
My house has both gables and thru-the-top. Ridge vent became popular in the 70's and depending on which manufacturer you have this may prove to be totally inadequate.
It stands to reason that if the attic stores up heat throughout the day, in the evening it's going to disappate that; some back through the roof, some down through the insulation blanket.
Attic fans are meant to keep the heat from compounding. They also have the added advantage if you're in cooler area like the northern U.S. where you can get snow fall, they prevent ice dams, and lower the risk of mold buildup. The mold thing took me by surprise. Moisture can escape from a bathroom vent, it hits the cold air in your attic in the fall/spring months, and condensates. Mold then can grow in the bottom half of your insulating blanket. Remember this is all possible, I'm not saying it's assurred.
To answer your question about cutting a hole in your roof, maybe. If you already have thru-the-top vents you can probably just replace one of those. If you have a gable vent, then you simply need a small hole under the shingle to run a solar panel connection wire (unless you decide to go with electric).
They make small foam pads that easily install behind your light switch and outlet plates. It'e easy, it's simple and it's cheap.....but it works to save heat in the winter and cool in the summer.
Signature includes my webpage and new go green blog site. Would love some help getting that off the ground!
Last edited by got-green-energy; 05-22-2008 at 01:31 PM.
Reason: forgot to state reason for my signature
Solar attic fan
I will definitely check out installing a solar attic fan Republican. But the $500 plus price will mean I have to wait until next year to do it. Thanks for the info.