Before lowering the thermostat, check the attic

(BPT) – You’ve probably heard it said that what goes up, must come down. When it comes to the summer season, higher temperatures can prompt homeowners to turn down the setting on their home’s thermostat.

While lowering the thermostat may help take the heat off inside a home, this action may not get to the bottom of a comfort issue — especially if the problem resides in the attic. Issues in a home’s attic can lead to warmer temperatures in other parts of the home, potentially leading to another source of discomfort — higher energy bills.

Why insulation matters in the summer season

In both summer and winter, adequate levels of attic insulation are necessary to help regulate the temperature inside a home. As temperatures rise inside the attic, warm air will seek to escape into cooler air-conditioned parts of the home. Installing an adequate level of attic insulation can help defend against heat transferring from the attic into conditioned parts of the home. Attic insulation works to reduce heat transfer and helps keep the air-conditioned part of a home cool.

How much of a difference can attic insulation make when it comes to managing heat transfer? Every home is different and variables such as the size and design of the home and local energy rates will influence energy. The difference that attic insulation makes may be seen in lower energy bills and overall comfort throughout the home.

An attic inspection conducted by an Owens Corning AirCare® Certified Professional will measure a home’s insulation level and provide a recommendation on the appropriate amount of insulation to install. An AirCare® Certified Professional will take measurements and snap photos of insulation levels in the attic and then calculate the amount of insulation needed to achieve U.S. Department of Energy recommended insulation levels.

Ductwork’s influence on comfort and costs

Inadequate insulation is just one attic issue that can reduce comfort. The ducts inside the attic that transport air to each room of a home can also present problems. Holes and leaks in attic ductwork or poor connections can allow cooled air to escape into the attic before it ever reaches the intended room. When air exits ducts in the attic, the result is diminished comfort and wasted energy as the system works harder to replace the lost air. The additional workload can potentially shorten the life of the air conditioning equipment or result in service calls to inspect a properly operating cooling unit.

Inconsistent temperatures in different parts of the home may be a sign of a problem with leaky attic ducts. As the flow of air throughout a home is interrupted due to leaks or improperly sized ducts, the conditioned air may not travel to the air registers in each room. Thus, one room may consistently be chilly while another room feels too warm. An Owens Corning Certified AirCare® Professional can evaluate a home’s attic ductwork to uncover leaks and suggest strategies for properly sizing and sealing the ducts.

Dust levels and ductwork issues

Beyond reducing thermal comfort, improperly sized or faulty ductwork can also allow particulates in attic air to be blown into a home’s living space. “Any noticeable increase in dust levels may be a sign of a problem with attic ductwork,” says Tom Casey, Chief Visionary Officer of Griffin Service and an Owens Corning AirCare® Professional.

Of course, proper maintenance of a home’s HVAC equipment is essential to supporting its optimal performance and longevity. Air filters should be cleaned or changed regularly and equipment should be serviced as directed by the manufacturer.

As temperatures soar, utility bills can rise as well. Before simply turning down the thermostat and potentially increasing your energy bill, think about the “whole home” and how addressing issues in the attic can bring a more holistic approach to energy efficiency and comfort.