It won’t be long before that first cold-snap comes around. You may hate to admit it, but it’s that time of year again: Cold weather, and time to fire up your heating system. The folks here at GAMA Air have been providing an in-depth consideration on how to make your home more energy efficient. We want our friends and neighbors here in the area to get the most out of what they are paying for utility costs. Here’s a link to a previous post where we talked about sealing and insulating your attic, and in the most recent post we discussed proper attic ventilation. In this post we will wrap it up work in the attic.
How do I work around recessed “Can” lights?
Recessed can-lights (also called high-hats or recessed down-lights) may be aesthetically appealing, but when they stick through your ceiling and into the attic they can cause a horrible energy loss. They are essentially open holes into your attic that allow heat to flow where you don’t want it to go. In the summer, hot attic air enters your rooms adding to the load on your AC system. In the winter, warm air is escapes out of your home and into your attic. Problems can occur from both the warm air leakage and the heat from the light fixture itself. In cold climates where the can-light is close to the roof itself, the heat rising from the light melts snow on the roof which then re-freezes at the edge of the roof forming an “ice dam”. And if you have can-lights in your bathrooms there are additional problems when warm, moist air enters the attic and causes moisture damage. What can you do?
- Call a Professional
It is possible to seal recessed can-lights, but it is not easy. And if it is not done correctly then it can create a fire hazard. Any old-style light fixture needs sufficient air space around it to vent the heat they put off. That means covering them with insulation is NOT the solution. Also, while fixing the insulation that surrounds them, be sure to keep all insulation from touching the fixture. You can use a piece of metal flashing or wire mesh to create a barrier and keep insulation at least 3-inches away. The exception would be if the light fixture has an “Insulation Contact” (IC) rating.
- Replace them with Energy Star and ICAT rated fixtures
The best option these days is to buy recessed can-lights that are rated “Insulated Ceiling Air Tight” (ICAT). This allows you to cover the fixture completely in the attic to close the ‘holes’ of energy loss. And if it is also Energy Star rated you could reduce energy consumption up to 75%. Of course, there is a huge variety of can-lights available. If you decide to go with this option then make sure the fixture you choose has the light output and light spread that you want.
- Switch to energy efficient bulbs
As a side point, if you keep the fixtures you have, you should at least consider replacing the bulbs with compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulbs or even and LED bulb. However, don’t just pick up CFL or LED bulb. Choose one that is designed for can-lights since there is extra heat build-up in can-lights that doesn’t normally occur in other types of light fixtures. Just keep in mind that this step will only reduce your energy consumption due to lower wattage bulbs and will not solve any of the air leakage problems we discussed above.
Do you have a need for immediate help with your home’s central heating and air system? The skilled and helpful technicians here at GAMA Air will be happy to help. Call us at (323) 655-6126 or use our online form to schedule a visit at a time convenient to you for a service call. We 100% guarantee your happiness with our work.
Or maybe you just want to ask us a question about making your home energy efficient? Visit our “Ask an Expert” page and let us know what’s on your mind! We’ll get back to you ASAP.