How Can I Make My Home More Energy Efficient? – Part 3

Do you have a ‘Honey-Do’ list? Well you should put at the top of your to-do list home improvement projects that will save you money, don’t you think? We’ve been discussing in Part 1 and Part 2 of this series projects that will save you money when winter rolls around. And who doesn’t want to have a little more cash around? At GAMA Air we deal with a lot of HVAC repairs and installations, and we do what we can to make the system as efficient as possible. But no matter how efficient your heater or air conditioner may be, you’ll be throwing money out the window if your home is not sealed and insulated well.

So far we’ve talked about locating air leaks, and planning to seal them. Let’s get going with what to do to keep the heat in your home when Jack Frost comes by.

First, a Word of Caution

Some attics in older homes have vermiculite insulation, which may contain asbestos, a health hazard. Vermiculite is a lightweight, pea-size, flaky gray mineral. Don’t disturb vermiculite insulation unless you’ve already had it tested by an approved lab to be sure it doesn’t contain asbestos. Contact your local health department for the name of an approved lab.

Start with the Big Holes First

Don’t feel you are obligated to find and seal every single little hole in your attic. The biggest bang for your buck will come from plugging the large ones. Once in the attic, refer to your sketch to locate the areas where leakage is likely to be greatest. For example look for where both inner and outer walls meet the attic floor, or soffits or dropped-ceiling areas, and behind or under attic kneewalls. Also look for dirty insulation since this indicates that air is moving through it.

Do you have dropped soffits? Push back the insulation and scoop it out of the soffits, but save it because you will put it back later. Find the open stud cavities. Cut a 16 inch long piece from a batt of unfaced fiberglass insulation and fold it into the bottom of a 13-gallon plastic garbage bag. Fold the bag and stuff it into the open stud cavity. Add more insulation to the bag if it doesn’t fit tightly. Plug all open stud spaces this way.

Next, cut a length of reflective foil or rigid foam board a few inches longer than the opening to be covered. Apply a bead of caulk or adhesive around the opening. Seal the foil or rigid foam to the frame with the caulk or adhesive and staple or nail it in place, if needed. Lastly, put the insulation back over the soffit once the stud cavities have been plugged and the soffits covered.

If you have a finished attic, or flue pipes passing through into the attic, then look for the next installment from GAMA Air about sealing and insulating these to make your home more energy efficient. UPDATE: Read Part 4 here!

Want to know more? Visit our “Ask an Expert” page and send us your question!

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