If you're paying too much to keep your home comfortable in the summer, making strategic improvements in the areas above and below your living space can help. Here are some efficiency- and comfort-boosting tips for improving the attic, crawl space or basement.
Tighten Up Accessible Air Ducts
Leaky, uninsulated or disconnected ducts that run through unconditioned areas can waste up to a third of your cooling system's conditioned air output. Many homeowners choose to hire a pro to fix any deficiencies, seal the joints and seams with mastic or metal-backed tape, then wrap the ducts in R-8 insulation. Gaps where the duct boots meet a floor, ceiling or wall register should be sealed as well.
Eliminate Conditioned Air Leaks Into the Attic
To find leaks where air is passing through look for dirt streaks on the insulation on the floor. Alternately, you can wait until it's dark outside, then turn on the lights in the rooms below and check for any illuminated areas in the attic. Common trouble spots include around the flue, any electrical, HVAC and vent pipe penetrations, recessed ceiling lights, open joist spaces and the access hatch. Use a combination of metal flashing, reflective foil-backed insulation, expandable foam spray, caulk and weatherstripping to plug any leaks you identify.
Install Ample Attic Insulation
If you can see the joists on the attic floor, you can likely benefit from adding more insulation. Homes in the South Bay and Santa Cruz area should have a total of R-30 to R-60. If you decide to install more rolled batt insulation, be sure to run it perpendicular to what's already in place.
Curb Air Leakage from the Crawl Space or Basement
If you have an unconditioned space below your living area, you can improve cooling efficiency and comfort by using caulk or expandable foam to block gaps between this lower level and the frame of your home, as well as around any wires, water supply lines and drain pipes that pass through the floor.
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Our goal is to help educate our customers in the South Bay Peninsula and Santa Cruz areas of California about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).