With cold winter months upon us, many homeowners are thinking about heat loss and energy efficiency as they plan their upcoming renovations. We spoke with insulation expert, Chris Ehry and he had the following advice for homeowners planning to renovate and wanting to improve the efficiency of their homes.
Preventing Heat Loss in Your Attic
Your attic has a large amount of square footage and heat rises, making your attic the biggest heat loss area in your home! It is important to ensure that your attic is insulated appropriately to ensure you are not losing money from your roof line! Ventilation is as important as insulation, as you can’t have one without the other!! It is very important to have an air exchange system in your home to vent the hot air out and bring the fresh air in, ensuring your attic does not condensate.
The best option to bring fresh air into your attic is through the soffit vents. If soffit ventilation is not available or the soffits are not functioning properly, then we look at other options. Gable vents are a good option and are installed on the side of the home on the gable end. In homes without a gable peak, fresh air intake vents can be installed approximately 48 inches up from the eavestrough on the shingles, drawing fresh air into the lower edge of the attic.
The most common method is through hot air exhaust vents on your shingles. These are installed at the top of your roof line. The two main hot air exhaust vents are flat static vents or taller, Turbo or Maxi vents. Flat static vents will release hot air from your attic when the hot air rises, and the air exchange is occurring via fresh air venting. Turbo or Maxi vents are 16-18 inches tall and draw fresh air from the soffit venting or the fresh air venting. We prefer to use the turbo or maxi vent because they’re taller and they draw fresh air upwards! Taller vents also work better in most areas of Canada because they do not get covered with snow.
Installing a high efficiency furnace and programmable thermostat will keep your home more consistent and only use the heat source when necessary. You want to air seal your home which means find any breaches that are leaking air and fill them with spray foam. Ensure that your bathroom fans are installed properly to ensure that hot air exiting the house is not into the attic space but outside. We also focus on ensuring the attic hatch lid is properly insulated with a gasket to ensure there is an airtight seal.
Improving Cold Floors
Your main floor is basically protruding beyond your foundation. When that overhang occurs, cold air is going directly into your rim joists. With older homes, the rim joists are not insulated very well and do not have a vapor barrier. Our suggestion is to remove all the old batt insulation and spray foam your rim joists in the basement. 2 lbs sprayfoam will have a built-in vapor barrier and create a complete barrier against the cold while adding a significant R-value. This can also rid your home of a lot of insects.
Chris Ehry, B.Sc., Expert Insulation Contracting, www.expertinsulation.ca