Planning home improvements in 2024? Start at the top
At first glance, the value of some home improvements can be hard to see — particularly when the improvements are in the attic. While a gleaming kitchen backsplash, an expansive patio deck or a luxury spa bath are all pleasing to the eye, the value of other home improvements may best be appreciated through improved indoor comfort. Installed in the attic area, insulation and ductwork are two examples of often overlooked upgrades that can impact comfort as well as energy savings. Case in point: the Environmental Protection Agency estimates that homeowners can save up to 15% on heating and cooling costs (or an average of 11% on total energy costs) by air-sealing their homes and adding insulation to attics and floors over crawl spaces.
Installing adequate levels of attic insulation and repairing or replacing attic ductwork can help address the root cause of problems such as increased dust, hot/cold rooms or high energy bills. But as the attic area is infrequently accessed, how do you know if a problem exists? Let’s start with insulation. Simply confirming its presence in the attic is not enough. The following are some signs that your home’s attic may need additional insulation:
• Hot or cold ceilings, walls or rooms.
• Uneven temperatures in a home that cause heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems to run more frequently.
• High heating or cooling bills compared to similarly sized homes in the area.
A sufficient amount of attic insulation, typically measured in inches, is necessary to help protect against warm air moving into colder parts of the building envelope. A qualified HVAC technician should be able to evaluate your attic and help you understand how much energy you could conserve by insulating to a specified thickness. For example, contractors designated as AirCare professionals are trained by Owens Corning and equipped with tools to assess insulation levels and explain how your home’s attic insulation compares to recommended standards.
Leaks, holes in ducts
Leaks and poor connections in attic ductwork can also lead to problems in other parts of the home. According to ENERGY STAR, about 20% of the air that moves through the duct system is lost due to leaks, holes and poorly connected ducts. ENERGY STAR also notes that tightly sealed and well-insulated ducts found in qualified homes can reduce annual utility bills by $120 or more. The following are some indicators of a problem with a home’s attic ductwork:
• Spikes in energy bills.
• Rooms that are too hot or too cold.
• Rooms that have a musty odor.
• Heating or cooling equipment that cycles on/off more frequently as the system works harder to heat/cool spaces due to lost air.
• Increased levels of dust.
An AirCare professional is trained to evaluate the pressure of air running through your home’s ductwork and may use special thermal technology tools that allow you to “see” where air is escaping. They also will evaluate the system for loose connections or areas where air may be leaking out of the system. Joints and connections will be evaluated to ensure the ductwork is properly sealed to keep conditioned air inside and help prevent particulates in the attic from entering ducts.
Ready to get a start on your 2024 home improvements? Don’t lose sight of opportunities in the attic to boost comfort and energy savings.
Savings may vary. Find out why at energystar.gov.
This article is courtesy of Brandpoint.