If you’re trying to keep your home cool during these hot summer months, and you’re not sure where all that cool air being pumped out of your air conditioner is going, try looking up.
While some cool air can escape through windows that are not property sealed or through the doors, it’s likely that the biggest culprit is a poorly insulated attic.
Additionally, it’s more than cool air escaping out of your attic. It’s also your budget. And as we have all seen with the recent rise in oil prices and the increase in fuel-adjustment charges on our electric bills, those escaping dollars are on the rise.
If you doubt it’s your attic that’s the problem, you can study data that shows 85 percent of a house’s coolness loss is straight up through the attic space. That’s the case in Florida. In other parts of the country, and different times of the year, it may be warmer air.
In Florida, insulation is required by code. But, even with proper insulation, you may still be facing problems.
The problem goes beyond insulation to ventilation.
If not done right, improper ventilation can destroy a home. It sounds strange, but your attic has to be able to breathe, otherwise you are creating humidity, and that can lead to mold and health problems.
Chris Livingston, of Perry Roofing, says he sees it regularly.
“Your attic needs to be properly ventilated,” he said. “That is the only way the heat and moisture can escape. If you lower the attic temperature, you lower the moisture.”
That will likely lower the utility bill as well.
Livingston calls it a convection cycle – hot air leaves through the ridges and cooler air enters through the soffits.
“A further benefit of proper ventilation is that the shingles on your roof will last longer,” he said. “The result is that proper ventilation will help make sure that the shingles last to their full life expectancy and not fail prematurely. And it’s possible that if your attic is not properly ventilated, it could void the warranty on your roof.”
So how do you know where you stand in terms of insulation and ventilation in your attic, and the humidity in your home? The first step would be an attic inspection. Depending on what you find, you must measure the health of your family and home and the cost savings in your utility bill against the cost of any renovation work.
But it makes sense. If you drop the temperature in your attic and remove some of the moisture, your A/C runs more efficiently, you have a healthier home and lower utility costs.