MN Home Improvements | Attic Insulation

 MN Attic Insulation | Green Home Improvements

With public awareness about environmental issues at an all-time high, chances are good you’ve heard quite a bit about methods for making your home green. It’s a pretty hot topic these days, and not likely to go anywhere soon. In fact, the last time the green movement was this hot, you were probably wearing bell bottoms and a peace symbol around your neck.

Go Green Save Green!

Requests for energy-efficient projects have substantially increased year after year.  So with another bone chilling Minnesota winter on our heels, now is a great time to make some improvements to your home. Thankfully, there are a lot of products that you can replace and add in your green home improvements to achieve better energy efficiency. And why not? Energy-efficient home features help lower your bills while reducing your carbon footprint, plus make your home more comfortable.

On top of that, Uncle Sam is still handing out tax credits for certain energy-efficient home improvements. An additional benefit is that energy-efficient upgrades have become a key attraction for today’s home buyers. The National Association of Realtors’ Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers found that nearly 90 percent of buyers considered heating and cooling bills important. Sweet!

Seal and Insulate, Insulate, Insulate!

Insulating your attic can help reduce your utility bills during the warm and cold winter months

Good insulation is just part of the picture. For insulation to perform properly, we must also seal the house to eliminate air movement through it. Although, many homeowners would probably like to think that their homes are sealed air tight. There are no overtly obvious gaps allowing air from the outdoors to get in, but still you notice drafts or cold spots in various places during the cold winter months. The problem is hidden air leaks, and they may be costing you your money.

Leaks can be found nearly anywhere in the home, but these are some of the more common areas that allow cold air in during the winter (don’t forget the hot air during the summer too):

  • Windows
  • Doors
  • Attic access door
  • Basement (rim joints where foundation meets wood framing)
  • Cellar door
  • Crawl space
  • Plumbing
  • Dryer vent
  • Fireplace
  • Chimney Flue
  • Recessed lighting
  • Electrical outlets
  • Anywhere where 2 different types of construction materials meet (ex: brick and siding)
  • Anywhere where there is a lack of insulation

As you can see, there are a lot of areas of the home that suffer from leakage, and this is a problem you need to have taken care of before the really cold winter temperatures hit! Every air leak in the home causes the furnace to run for a longer period of time in order to meet the temperature requirements on the thermostat. The longer the unit runs, the more energy you waste.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy (USDE), the attic is where most of your home’s heat escapes to. Why? Well, heat rises, and most homes don’t have enough insulation up there to keep it from getting out. So, poof… out it floats! That is air you have paid to heat!

The good news is that the attic is one of the easier rooms to insulate and air seal, leading to improved home comfort, lower energy bills and a better overall energy performance. To determine if you have enough insulation in your attic, measure the existing amount of insulation. If there is less than twelve inches, you most likely need additional insulation.

NOTE: When adding additional insulation to your attic you must take into consideration that you must still allow for proper ventilation for maximum effectiveness. Such proper ventilation would include baffles, ridge vents and soffit vents.

Head over to the Energy Star website’s R-value page to check out recommended R-values for your area. Or for more comprehensive information, check the Department of Energy’s online Insulation Guide Exit ENERGY STAR.

Energy Audit

An energy audit conducted by a professional would serve as a great place to start to assessing what areas need some help. In some cases, you can ask your energy provider for a free inspection.  If not, then calling a qualified Minnesota home improvement contractor is the first step in making your home more energy efficient. They will be able to help identify those areas where your home could be more comfortable and energy efficient –and those places that may need additional protection against “hidden” energy loss. The sooner you find out, the sooner you will be more comfortable and the sooner you can watch the savings add up!

Energy Saver 101 infographic breaks down a home energy audit, explaining what energy auditors look for and the special tools they use to determine where a home is wasting energy.