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Help your home and your energy bill handle summer heat

Posted 7/10/24

(BPT) - As summer temperatures rise, what can you do to beat the heat at home? Before lowering the thermostat setting, consider an often-overlooked approach to help your home and your energy budget …

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Help your home and your energy bill handle summer heat

Posted

(BPT) - As summer temperatures rise, what can you do to beat the heat at home? Before lowering the thermostat setting, consider an often-overlooked approach to help your home and your energy budget stay comfortable. Keeping a home cool in the summer (and warm in the winter) is all about managing heat flow. A sufficient thickness of insulation blown into the home’s attic can help manage thermal flow from a notorious “heat trap” in many homes.

Without delving too deeply into the science, it is useful to consider how insulation helps reduce heat gain and contributes to a comfortable indoor environment. The thermodynamics of air and temperature mean that warm air continually tries to move toward a cooler location. Any disruptions in the home’s envelope — such as a window, access entry, or the intersection of roof deck and attic — present an opening for warm air to enter a cooler area.

As an example, let’s consider that a home’s attic is accessed through a door in the bedroom. On a hot, sunny day, radiant heat from outside will pass through the roof deck and enter the cooler attic space. Once inside the attic, the hot air will move toward the access door, “spilling” into cooler parts of the home. As more energy is required to maintain the temperature, other parts of the cooling system — like the air conditioner condenser — may have to work harder to maintain the desired temperature, leading to more energy usage, potentially higher bills and wear and tear on equipment.

The attic is only one location in a home where hot air can escape. However, given the high temperatures in attics, these areas may present a higher “heat load” than many other parts of the home. Owens Corning AirCare® Professionals are trained to measure how much heat may be escaping from the attic. They can utilize tools and technologies such as thermal imaging to visually capture sources of escaping heat and can calculate the potential payback on attic interventions such as insulation or retrofitting ductwork to address holes, gaps or loose connections.

How much difference can interventions in the attic make when it comes to utility bills? Every home is unique and savings will vary, but the EPA estimates that homeowners can save an average of 15% on heating and cooling costs (or an average of 11% on total energy costs) by air sealing their homes and adding insulation in attics, floors over crawl spaces and basements.

Material matters

Several insulating materials are available to mitigate heat transfer in a home, and some are particularly well suited for attic applications. Owens Corning AirCare® Professionals can recommend the proper form of insulation for various spaces within the home. Fiberglass insulation relies on tiny air pockets located throughout the insulation that resist the passage of heat flow — mitigating heat gain in summer and heat loss in winter. Generally, the thicker the insulation, the more air pockets and the greater the insulating power. Fiberglass insulation is not combustible.

Is your home prepared to take the heat this summer? To find an AirCare® professional, visit the online locator at HVAC Contractor Locator | Insulation | Owens Corning.