There are only so many cold snaps that you can endure with the thermostat turned low and a set of chunky sweaters as your strategy for keeping your energy bills low.
If you live in an area where a normal winter means the arrival of cold weather, keeping it warm is going to be expensive unless you take action to insulate it properly.
When you consider that the Department of Energy estimates that you could save anywhere between 10% and 50% on your energy bills as a result of having a properly insulated attic, this is the part of your home that you should concentrate your insulating efforts on.
The task of installing some insulation into an unheated attic can often be something that the average DIY enthusiast might be able to tackle, but there are some pitfalls that you have to wary of.
It may be that you already some insulation material in your attic which is either inadequate or simply past its best or plain outdated in its energy-saving performance. If you need to clear the space of some existing materials, it is often a good idea to get a firm which specializes in attic insulation removal, so that it is done safely and the old insulation materials are disposed of correctly.
If you then intend to try and install the new insulation yourself, be aware that despite the fact that laying down the material seems easy, it has to be done in just the right way so that your home can breathe and you achieve the best possible levels of energy efficiency.
You may want to consider getting a professional in to do the job for you so that you get the best possible return on your investment, or alternatively, follow some of these tips to avoid some common DIY mistakes.
Obstructed air flow
Your home needs to breathe for a variety of reasons so you need to ensure that you avoid blocking the vent areas in your eaves when installing the insulation.
Make sure that you do not push the batt or blanket insulation beyond the top plate at the end of the joist run in your attic. It is also important that you don’t attempt to fold it back and up in between the rafters or try to pour fill insulation into these areas.
If you end up committing one of these classic DIY installation errors, you will end up obstructing the flow of air from vents or the gaps between the outer wall and the roof, if your home is of older construction.
A good way to avoid this happening is to check if your roof pitch is steep enough to allow access to the eaves. If this is the case, you can then install a slanted-board baffle at the end of each joist run, which will ensure that your insulation material will not obstruct air flow.
Fill in holes and gaps
Although you want to avoid obstructed air flow in your attic so that your home can breathe properly, you should take a look around and see where you could fill in holes and gaps in order to improve energy efficiency levels.
Areas to target are extra spaces around openings where ductwork, pipes and wires are entering the attic floor, where you could lose heat in the winter through these gaps.
Using a suitable material like unfaced fiberglass or caulk, fill in these gaps and also look to caulk nail and drill holes too, for extra insulation performance.
Caution with recessed lighting fixtures
Another common DIY mistake that you need to be aware of is the need to be careful when covering recessed lighting fixtures in your attic with insulation material.
These recessed lighting fixtures do get extremely hot and if they are covered over with insulation material, this increases the risk of a fire hazard.
You should aim to ensure that there is at least three inches of clearance between these lighting fixtures and the insulation material. Caution is also advised when using poured or blown-in cellulose, as this has a tendency to find its way onto the light fixtures over a period of time.
The need to insulate your home as efficiently as possible should be weighed against the need to avoid creating a fire hazard, so keep a safe distance with the insulation material or consider replacing the fixtures with a flush-mounted light fitting instead.
Getting proper levels of insulation in your attic should save you some serious money on your energy bills if you do it right, just make sure you do it safely if you intend to do it yourself.
After working for over a decade in the pest control industry as a technician for a national pest control company, Jon Webb saw the havoc pests are able to wreck on our homes and businesses. Jon found that many customers had no one to turn to for cleaning and decontamination of pest infestations. In Jon’s words, “I began taking on work while I was still working as a pest control technician where I learned, studied, and cultivated my craft. After obtaining several licenses and certifications, I was able to do attic cleaning, pest cleanup, infestation decontamination, and insulation removal according to industry standards and strict guidelines. I now exclusively clean attics, decontaminate pest infestations, and remove and install insulation”. Jon enjoys sharing his know how online.