Seal air leaks first, then add extra insulation for an energy-saving improvement with great bang for the buck.
Synopsis: Although it’s easy to think of big things when you’re looking for places to cut energy costs (replacement windows, anyone?), the first steps to take involve insulation in your home. FHB contributing editor Mike Guertin guides you through some relatively low-cost techniques for upgrading your home’s insulation. He begins by sealing air leaks, such as the gaps around recessed lights and electrical boxes, plumbing or electrical chases, framing and a chimney, and more. Guertin includes a guide to finding the best air sealant for the job. He then recommends tuning up existing insulation, whether fiberglass batts or loose-fill cellulose. In conclusion, Guertin outlines the process for blowing in loose-fill insulation, which he says is a two-person job.
Magazine extra: Watch Mike use the Owens Corning AttiCat system to blow fiberglass insulation into his own attic during an energy upgrade.
Do you want to keep your heating costs from going through the roof? It’s easy: Keep your heat from going through the roof. Saving money on heating-fuel costs is a lot simpler than negotiating with OPEC or your local utility. On a recent upgrade in the attic of a 1950s-era house (one of two projects shown here), I air-sealed and spread a 12-in.-deep layer of cellulose throughout 1500 sq. ft. of space in about a day. Coupled with other energy-saving improvements made to the home, the result was that the owner saw his heating and cooling costs reduced by half compared to the previous year, even in the face of higher electricity and heating-fuel costs.
I typically focus my efforts to improve the energy efficiency of an attic on two main areas: sealing air leaks in the ceiling and increasing the amount of insulation.
The payback period for tightening a leaky ceiling can be as short…