In the last installment of this multi-part series of blog posts, Dave Condon of Standard Energy Solutions explained some of the sealing and insulation problems he commonly encounters in attics when conducting home energy audits.  In this post, Dave will explore attic ventilation and will explain how attic ductwork can negatively impact the efficiency of a home’s air conditioning system.

Inspect attic ductwork and air handler – In many homes, part of the HVAC system is in the attic where summer temperatures can soar well into the triple digits.  The chilled air flowing through the system inevitably picks up some of the attic’s heat, forcing the system to work that much harder to keep the house cool.

Inspecting attic HVAC system – To make sure your HVAC system is operating as efficiently as possible, check the system for air and water leaks.  All of the ductwork should be sealed and insulated against the attic’s temperature extremes and there should be no sign of condensation.  If you can feel cold air leaking from the ductwork, or if any part of the system is cold to the touch, you probably need to have the ducts sealed and insulated.

Verify adequate ventilation – An attic vent fan can dramatically lower summer attic temperatures.  Attic fans can be mounted behind a gable vent or through a dedicated hole in the roof.  They can be wired into the home’s electrical system or powered by a small, dedicated solar cell on the roof.  Some vent fans include thermostatic control and motorized vent covers to prevent heat loss in winter.  Unless you are comfortable cutting holes in your roof and/or are an experienced electrician, professional installation is strongly recommended.

Attic vent fan – According to what we just told you about the benefits of an attic fan, it may seem like a no-brainer. But before you make an appointment to have one installed, make sure you won’t be replacing one problem with another. An attic fan can lower attic temperatures by forcing hot air out of the attic and drawing cooler outside air into the attic space.  However, if your attic isn’t adequately sealed off from the living space, an attic fan may draw conditioned air into the attic and out of the house!

Dave Condon explaining proper attic ventilation

Call in a pro – Handy homeowners can tackle many of these jobs themselves, but there is no substitute for an experienced professional with the right tools and training.  Standard Energy Solutions offers a comprehensive home energy audit that covers everything from overall air infiltration rates to HVAC efficiency.  The audit concludes with a comprehensive report complete with infrared images of problem areas and a list of recommended improvements.  From there, the homeowner can decide which, if any, improvements to make themselves or elect to have Standard Energy Solutions complete the recommended work.

Dave Condon describing audit process

Stay tuned for the next part of this series when we will come down from the attic to explore some of the ways outdoor temperatures may be getting into the main levels of your home.