Homeowners like you are exploring all possible ways to improve their homes so that they consume less energy. Move over Energy Star Appliances! There are many more ways to save energy. Did you know that you can reduce the heating and cooling costs of a home by properly closing all openings in the walls and ceilings? This will prevent hot or cold air from getting inside.
Even though the climate is warm right now in many parts of the country, it’s never too early to think about saving heating costs!
When the interior walls open into the attic
The ceilings and walls that separate the outside from the inside are not the only surfaces through which hot air can escape the home. Since interior walls have air-conditioned space on each side, they can’t possibly cause any problems. Unfortunately, a house can lose heat through interior walls as well. You might assume that this is a problem only found in old houses. But that is not the case. Newly built homes, too, can face this problem.
This usually happens when the top of the interior walls opens to the cold attic. This allows the cold attic air to get into the cavities in the walls.
When the air inside the walls is cold and the air outside the walls is hot, heat will move through the drywall and warm up the air inside the cavity. This warm air will make its way into the attic. This process will also push the cold attic air down. This causes further energy loss. This process will continue so long as the home is warm and the attic is cold.
You can fix this problem by preventing air from getting into and out of the wall cavities. The solution is relatively simple. You just need to cover the wall opening with some rigid materials and seal the edges using caulk. Alternatively, you can stuff fiberglass insulation into the cavity and apply spray foam over the insulation.
When the house has two ceilings
Some old houses have high ceilings. Many of these homes also have lower ceilings under the original ceiling. The problem with this arrangement is that in most cases, there is no proper insulation on the lower ceiling. By simply having insulation on the original ceiling, you can’t keep the home warm because there may be inadvertently many openings for the attic air to move into the space between the upper and the lower ceilings.
The air between the 2 ceilings and the air inside the attic have nearly the same temperature. Only a layer of dry wall separates this cold air from the house.
The hot air moving through the dry wall will warm up this air. As it warms up, it will move through the gaps into the attic and will be replaced by cold attic air all over again. Insulation that is not in the right place is practically useless.
This is a not a big problem in newly constructed homes. Openings in the walls and ceilings will let air inside and increase the cooling and heating costs of the homeowner. While improving a home, as a homeowner you should take all precautions to ensure that outside air can’t get inside.