Eliminate Energy Waste in Your Home - Part 3

Do you have a ‘Honey-Do’ list? If so, then don’t you think you should put at the top of your to-do list home improvement projects that will save you money? That’s why we’ve been discussing in Part 1 and Part 2 of this series some projects that can 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 might be, you’ll be throwing money out the window if your home is not well sealed and insulated.

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 to visit your neighborhood.

First, a Word of Caution: Some attics in older homes have vermiculite insulation, which may contain asbestos, a known 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 and you are sure it does not contain asbestos. You can contact your local health department for the name of an approved lab.

Start with the Big Holes: Don’t feel like you need to find and seal every single little hole in your attic. You’ll get the biggest bang for your buck by plugging the largest ones first. Once you are in the attic, refer to the sketch you made earlier, that we described in Part 1, 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 knee walls. 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 recessed “can” lights in your open soffits, or if you have a finished attic, then stay tuned for the next installment from GAMA Air about sealing and insulating these to make your home more energy efficient.

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

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