Keeping Your Home Warm As The Temperature Drops
As we move into the cold winter months, now is the perfect time to make sure your home is up to keeping out the cold and maintaining the warmth inside. Here are a few things to look for that could affect your home’s performance:
We usually feel heat by radiation, which is why a home can feel warm or cold, even though the air temperature inside is what we set the thermostat on. Adequate depth of insulation on the attic floor doesn’t allow summer heat to penetrate and heat the ceiling below or for the ceiling to cool quickly in the winter – both of which affect your sensation of heat or cold. We currently look for an insulation value of R 38, which is about a foot deep. It should be installed without gaps or voids and shouldn’t be compressed.
Fiberglass insulation works by lofting, which means if left uncovered it can be affected by wind and convection. The insulation on vertical attic knee walls, skylight wells, and the like should be enclosed on the attic side as well, usually behind drywall, OSB, or Thermo Ply, to perform well. And air drawn in from the eaves that passes through the insulation over the top of the outside walls will cause heat gain or loss, depending on the season. A cardboard or Styrofoam baffle should be stapled in place to direct air flow above the insulation, near the underside of the roof.
Air sealing the attic/ceiling plane is a good idea, particularly in a vented attic space. Convection should pull air from the soffit vents in the eaves and exhaust it at the ridge vent. This helps avoid a build-up of humidity from the house below, which can condense on cold roof and rafter surfaces and lead to mildew in warmer weather. Air-sealing the drywall along the partition walls below where they meet the ceiling and plugging holes around electrical wiring and plumbing vents in the framing helps block the passage of conditioned air and moisture from the house below. Capping utility chases that carry ducting and flues from one floor to another through the house is a must. Just be careful to use non-combustible materials like galvanized sheet metal where heat sources are involved. Ever wondered why the pink or yellow insulation in your attic has black stains in it? Most likely that’s house dust filtered from air leaks below.
It’s pretty simple: just like you the house wants the covers deep enough and tucked in all around and doesn’t like the drafts. Air-sealing and insulation deliver the best bang for the buck, contributing noticeably to comfort inside and lowered heating and cooling bills.