August 2004
Save Energy in the Attic

Want to cut your gas bill? One of the most cost-effective areas in your home to improve energy efficiency is in the attic.

Start by adding insulation. Loose-fill insulation is typically the best choice for attics to fill hard-to-reach areas and crevices. Types of loose-fill insulation include cellulose and fiberglass, both made of recycled materials.

Insulation is rated by R-value, or its resistance to heat flow. The higher the R-value, the better the insulator. R-30 is the recommended R-value for attic spaces in most of Georgia.

Have a professional install loose-fill installation in your attic. It requires the use of special equipment that professionals have on hand. Check to make sure you're getting at least the minimum amount specified in building codes.

Go by bag count rather than thickness. Count the number of bags used and then check the manufacturer's chart to make sure the proper amount was installed for the square footage covered. Professionals are also required to leave a card in your attic detailing the installed R-values.

Your attic could be leaking cold air into your home through attic fans and access doors. Use expandable foam or caulk to fill in the trim work around these areas.

You can reduce air leakage by adding an insulated cover to your pull-down stairs and attic fan. Just remember to remove the cover over the attic fan before using it.

Proper ventilation is also important. During the winter months, proper ventilation will keep unwanted moisture out and keep insulation dry. Moisture can potentially create structural problems, including wood decay, peeling paint and wet insulation.

"It doesn't cost anything to run passive vents," said Dan Guy, Walton EMC home energy specialist. "The best type of passive vents to install are continuous soffit and ridge vents."

Guy's "rule of thumb" for passive vents is for every 100 square feet of flat ceiling in the home, there should be 150 square inches of passive vent free area.

"Passive vents let air in at the lowest levels and out at the highest levels, while electric vents put suction on the ceiling by pulling air out of the house and increasing infiltration."

Electric or mechanical vents aren't usually the best solution. Often times you'll spend more money powering electric vents than what you'll save on energy. The bearings on wind turbines add resistance to air flow if there's no wind; this slows down the airflow.

Get more energy-saving tips from the U.S. Department of Energy. Don't pay extra because of an inefficient attic. Instead, make your attic more energy efficient and store up on energy savings.