If you live in a hot climate, a sealed, conditioned attic can save you money on your cooling bills. Recently, researchers in a hot climate looked at four houses with the same floor plan, and they played with different configurations of ventilation, sealed spaces and conditioned attics. Ultimately, they determined that running your duct work through a sealed and air conditioned attic is the most efficient option.
If you are ready to reduce your energy consumption, here are the five steps you need to prepare your attic:
1. Install insulated panels on your attic ceiling and walls
In order to fully insulate your attic space, you need to add insulation go the ceiling and walls. Insulated panels are extremely effective at keeping cold air inside, and they can be installed relatively easily. With a hammer and a few small nails, you can handle this task on your own. Alternatively, you can hire a professional installer to do it for you.
2. Fill in the gaps with spray foam
Once you have your panels installed, you need to address any gaps. Gaps allow air to move easily between you home and attic, and as you are trying to keep the majority of the cold air in the house, you want to avoid this risk.
Spray foam insulation makes this task easy. Spray this insulation around and between your panels. After spraying on one layer, wait for a moment. The spray expands so you need a minute to see if you have covered the area adequately.
You can also use spray insulation to create insulating seals along the top of walls, around pipes that travel from the house into the attic and near chimney flashing.
In some cases, if the home's builder tried to insulate these areas, you may find batting in them. So that you have room for the insulation spray foam, use a utility knife or a screwdriver to dig out the batting insulation.
Once that is gone, spray your expanding foam in the area, and consider using caulk for the very small, delicate gaps where spray foam would be unwieldy.
3. Build insulating boxes around recessed lighting
If you have recessed lighting from living spaces protruding into your attic, you cannot put insulation directly on these features. In most cases, putting insulation in direct contact with electrics can create a fire hazard, and as a result, it is often against local building codes.
However, you don't want to leave these areas uninsulated. If possible, deal with them by building small insulating boxes. When you buy panels to insulate your walls and attic ceiling, make sure you buy a few extra panels.
Cut these panels into boxes that are large enough to cover your recessed lighting without touching the fixtures. If you want, you can use your spray foam as "glue" to hold the pieces of these insulating boxes together. These boxes also work well around bathroom ventilation fans.
4. Move the ductwork into the attic
If your duct work is already in the attic or if you are installing a new HVAC system, it will be relatively simple to put the duct work into the attic. However, if your duct work is already in your walls, you will need to pay an HVAC specialist to make the shift for you.
In addition to moving the ducts to the attic, make sure there is at least one opening so that your attic is also cooled. The cool air keeps the ductwork cool, ultimately helping you to save money and energy.
5. Do not seal attic vents
Keep in mind that your attic needs to let air out in some cases. Particularly, when it gets too hot in the attic. Although you should seal the attic from the rest of the house, you still want to leave the vents that lead outside intact.
For more information, check out companies such as Retracom.