How Can I Make My Home More Energy Efficient? – Part 5

Crisp mornings, colorful leaves, the kids in school… Yep! Autumn is on its way! But you know what that means, right? Winter is on its heels! So now is the time to make sure your home is sealed and insulated to keep your utility bills down to a reasonable level. This is the next installment of a multi-post series by GAMA Air dedicated to helping our friends and neighbors in Beverly Hills, Culver City, Mar Vista, Miracle Mile, Hollywood, West Hollywood, Los Angeles, West Los Angeles, Santa Monica, Marina Del Rey, Pacific Palisades, Brentwood, Bel Air, Westwood, Downtown Los Angeles, Vernon, Huntington Park, Sherman Oaks, Encino and the surrounding communities make the most of every cent paid to the utility companies. Part 1Part 2Part 3, and Part 4 all had helpful tips to get started, and suggestions for working in the attic. So let’s keep working with attic tasks.

Seal Small Gaps

Small gaps will be harder to find since they might be buried under insulation. Look for areas where the insulation is darkened due to dusty air from the house. If the attic is really cold, you may also see frosty spots on the insulation where warm, moist air is condensing and freezing as it enters the attic.

Use caulk to seal small gaps around plumbing vent pipes and electrical wires and the holes in electrical boxes. If the gap around the vent pipe is wider than 2 inches, you should stuff some fiberglass insulation into the space to serve as a backer for the expanding foam. Once the fiberglass insulation is in place, follow the directions on the can to foam the space around the pipe. Be sure to wear gloves and be careful not to get expanding foam on your clothes, as the foam is very sticky and nearly impossible to remove once it sets.

After the gaps, holes, and spaces are sealed and the caulk and foam are dry then just push the insulation back into place. But keep it fluffy since compressed or packed down insulation doesn’t really insulate. If you have blown insulation, a small hand rake can be helpful to move it back into place.

Seal Your Heating and Cooling Ducts While in the Attic

Leaky and poorly-insulated ducts severely reduce the efficiency of your heating and cooling system. By sealing and insulating them you could increase the system efficiency by 20% and greatly increase air flow in your home.

First go to the duct penetrations going through the attic floor. Seal these with expanding foam. Then locate leaks in the ductwork by turning on your circulating fan and feeling for air leaking out. Make a mark on the duct so you can come back to this after you turn the fan off. Trying to seal the duct while the fan is running won’t work.

After turning off the fan, go back to where you found air leaks and seal these spots with duct sealant, also known as duct mastic. This is a durable paste that hardens and is available at many hardware stores or home improvement centers. DO NOT use traditional ‘duct tape’ or 'duck tape' of any color. It may have a reputation of being good for anything, but it is NOT good on ducts. On ductwork it fails quickly and falls off. If duct mastic is not available, then using foil duct tape is an acceptable option. Whether you use duct mastic or foil tape, be sure the surface of the area you are sealing is clean and dry. 

The last step is to properly insulate the ducts. If the insulation is torn or missing, add duct insulation with a rating of at least R-6. Use foil duct tape to apply the duct insulation.

We’re almost done in the attic! Coming soon from GAMA Air will be the next installment to help you keep your home cozy in the winter, and keep your utility bill as low as possible. UPDATE: Read Part 6 here!

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