Reducing Attic Temperatures In The Summer

Attic-Fan-DiagramIf you’ve ever had to go digging through your attic in the summer to try and find something, you realize immediately the temperature in your attic is noticeably hotter.

In some cases, attic temperatures can reach above the 150 degree mark. If your attic is not properly ventilated, your cooling costs will not be as low as they should be because your system is constantly running to compensate for the excess heat. Your attic needs to be properly ventilated to not only dispose of a majority if the heat build-up, but also to remove moisture produced within your home. If this moisture is not exhausted from the attic it can condense and cause insulation and construction materials to deteriorate. Temperature control and moisture control are the major reasons for providing attic ventilation.

Combatting Excess Heat

How can you combat the excessive heat in your attic? There are several ways to do this. One is the use of attic fans. Other solutions include adding an attic vent or improving attic insulation.

According to Energy Star, attic fans are intended to cool hot attics by drawing in cooler outside air from attic vents (soffit and gable) and pushing hot air to the outside. However, if your attic has blocked soffit vents and is not well-sealed from the rest of the house, attic fans will suck cool conditioned air up out of the house and into the attic. This will use more energy and make your air conditioner work harder, which will increase your summer utility bill.

Attic fans are readily available from most hardware stores. They come in a variety of sizes and air-flow ratings. The one you need will depend on the square footage of your attic. It is always advisable to get an expert’s opinion on exactly what you need, and to have a licensed electrician install it for you. A good attic fan might cost you in the range of $150, and having it installed might cost you the hourly rate of a certified electrician. Dropping the temperature from 120-150 degrees to roughly the same as the outside temperature will save you enough on your power bill to offset the purchase and installation charge.

Installing attic vents, if you don’t already have them, is another way to assist in the movement of hot (and cold) air out of your attic. Adding a gable or louvered vent to your home will not only assist in the air flow of your attic but can also provide aesthetic improvements to the outside of your home.

Your local hardware store will stock many varieties of air vents, some are manually operated by the wind (turbine type vents) and some are either powered by electricity or solar power. Electric or solar powered vents will come with a thermostat that will cause your vent to operate when your attic reaches a certain temperature. Your individual needs might call for installing more than one if your roof does not already have adequate ventilation.

Having adequate insulation in your home’s attic is another way to combat excessive heat build-up. If your home is more than a few years old, the recommended R level of insulation has probably changed. If you haven’t added insulation in a few years, your home probably is under insulated.

The most common mistake homeowners make when installing insulation is to block the flow of air at the eaves. Never cover attic soffit vents with insulation; use rafter vents and soffit vents to maintain airflow.

Laying fiberglass rolls is easiest for a do-it-yourself job. If you have any type of insulation between the rafters, install the second layer over and perpendicular to the first (the second layer of roll insulation should be unfaced, with no vapor retarder). This will help cover the tops of the joists and reduce heat loss or gain through the frame. Also, when laying down additional insulation, work from the perimeter toward the attic opening. Never lay insulation over recessed light fixtures or soffit vents. Keep all insulation at least 3 inches away from “canned” lights, unless they are rated IC (Insulated Ceiling). If you are using loose fill insulation, use sheet metal to create barriers around the openings. If using fiberglass, wire mesh can be used to create a barrier.

Bunn’s & Bennett Heating & Air Conditioning

Bunn’s and Bennett Heating and Air Conditioning is committed to doing everything we can to insure your home is as comfortable and efficient as it can be. We are a licensed, certified, factory trained HVAC dealer, serving the Huntsville and Tennessee Valley area for more than 34 years. If you have questions, please do not hesitate to call us at 256-536-0967, or email us at [email protected]

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