Proper Attic Insulation and Ventilation Is Essential for Energy Efficiency

When it comes to a home improvement that reduces energy use and improves the interior comfort of the home environment, many first look to energy efficient air conditioning and heating units as the answer. Energy Star HVAC units are indeed energy savers. They are also very costly investments and even those have limited effectiveness if other areas of the home where heat is gained or lost are not also addressed. The place to begin is with the attic.

Attic insulation and ventilation is a critical part of energy conservation in a home. Significant heat enters the home through the attic in summer and heat is lost from the attic in the winter. Traditional attic insulation materials such as fiberglass and cellulose help to slow the process, but they do not stop it since they retain heat that ultimately passes through. Adding a double-sided radiant barrier to attic ceilings or even over the top of the traditional insulating material will prevent most of the heat from entering the material in the first place, helping it work more efficiently and enabling your interior climate system to work less hard with less energy needed.

Adequate attic ventilation is equally important to prevent heat and moisture from being trapped in the attic. Keeping the air circulating properly in the attic also aids in preventing unwanted heat gain and loss and prevents damaging moisture from rotting wood and promoting the growth of mildew and molds. If you are looking to make a home improvement that pays for itself in reduced energy usage as well as one that protects your most valuable investment, call a roofing contractor to assess the insulation and ventilation in your attic first.

The Benefits of Proper Attic Ventilation

Improve Your Home’s Energy Efficiency
The reduced temperature in your attic will also assist your air conditioner by keeping the ductwork and the air inside cooler. The resulting effect will be cooler air flowing through your HVAC system and reduced strain on your a/c unit.

Extend the Life of Your Roof
When your attic heats up, the roofing underlayment under your roof shingles can also heat up and, over time, become brittle and ineffective. By lowering your attic temperature you can extend the life of your roof and save the expense of repairs and replacement.

Keep it Cool in the Summer
During the peak summer months, your attic’s temperature can rise to 160° or more. This heat build-up can then raise the temperature inside your home and increase the amount of electricity used by air conditioners and other cooling equipment.

Installing a Solar Attic Fan will help remove the heat build-up in your attic and bring your attic’s temperature down closer to the ambient outside temperature.

The reduction in attic temperature will also benefit the homeowner by preserving and extending the life of the roofing and attic construction materials. Additionally, hot air in your attic can then heat the metal exterior of your HVAC ductwork and consequently heat the air passing through it, causing your air conditioner to work even harder.

Remove Moisture and Reduce Harmful Mold and Mildew

In the winter, warm moist air rises from the inside of your home and collides with the cold underside of the roof. U.S. Sunlight Solar Attic Fans provide the air circulation which prevents the moist air from condensing on the surface, keeping your attic drier and helping to prevent mold and mildew from forming inside your attic and ice damming on your roof.

Moisture in the attic can also lead to other troublesome problems. Humidity can cause saturated insulation, sheetrock pops and truss uplifts, which can cause damage and cracks to the drywall inside your house.

Solar attic fans and solar powered gable vents are both great ways to effectively ventilate your attic while saving money on electricity.

Prevent Ice Damming
If you live in an area that has snow, the warmer attic air will heat the roof and melt the snow which drips to the eaves where it can refreeze as ice and form ice-dams under the eaves. These ice-dams will cause water to work back up under the shingles into the attic and down to the ceiling.

Attic Ventilation – It’s Not As Complicated As You’re Making It

Proper attic ventilation is a simple and effective way to improve your home’s energy efficiency, especially in hot climates. That is, it can be if you don’t over-think it. The key is to remember that SIMPLE and EFFECTIVE go together – surprisingly, the more complicated you make your attic ventilation system, the less effective it will be. So before you get carried away with all the different options for attic ventilation (“I’ll take three of each!”), take a moment and learn just how it all works.

Why is attic ventilation so important? The simple answer is that air in an improperly ventilated attic has nowhere to go, causing it to become stagnant and increase in temperature. As this hot air fills your attic, it heats up the insulation and the ductwork that is supposed to be carrying cool air throughout your house. Air in a well-ventilated attic stays cooler and, consequently, keeps your home cooler with less effort and energy.

Here’s the simplest way to think of it: attic ventilation works like a chimney for your entire home. How does a chimney work? Well, it has a hole in the bottom and a hole in the top, and…that’s about it. Pretty simple, right? Ventilating your attic works on the same principles, and is essentially no more complicated: a hole in the bottom where air comes in, and a hole in the top where air goes out. That’s it. Really!

The holes in the bottom are usually soffit vents, and if you’re like 95% of homeowners your soffit vents are probably a mess – clogged, blocked, painted over, or entirely too small. Air will not leave the attic unless air enters, so check your soffit vents and clean them every couple of years. Try using a dry nylon car wheel brush to clean the vents – something as simple as this has the potential to lower attic temperature as much as 20 degrees.

The holes in the top of your attic are generally ridge vents, wind turbines, static vents or power fans. This is where people get overly-excited and risk undermining the entire attic ventilation system by overdoing the exhaust vents. If you want the air in your attic to move in the bottom and out the top – and trust me, that’s what you want – then you must provide the air with a definite path. Adding an abundance of exhaust vents will, essentially, confuse the air. Air must have a clear destination and will follow the path of least resistance. If you have too many exhaust vents, you’ll find that the most powerful vent will dominate, turning the less powerful exhaust vents into intake vents that will take the place of the soffit vents. This can happen if you mix different types of exhaust vents or if you place a ridge vent on every ridge. The air that should be drawn from the soffit vents will instead come from the less powerful exhaust vents or the ridge vents about halfway up the roof, and you will have air flow only in the top part of your attic.

So how do you ensure proper attic ventilation? Keep it simple! Think of your attic as a chimney: air enters from the bottom through the soffit vents, and exits the top through the exhaust vents. Stick with one type of exhaust vent, and make sure that all exhaust vents are installed within just a few feet of each other at the top of the attic. This will keep the air flowing throughout the attic, rather than just at the top. Combine proper ventilation with a radiant barrier to drop surface temperatures of your attic insulation, and you will have an attic that is cooler during summer weather and drier in the winter months. Keep it simple and you’ll be just fine.