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Do 1 Thing ENERGY STAR: Check Your Attic Insulation and Look for Air Leaks

2013 November 20


Winterizing blog 2.0

By: Doug Anderson

This week EPA invites you to “Do 1 Thing ENERGY STAR,” by sealing and insulating your home. This blog post is the second in a 5 part series from ENERGY STAR’s home envelope expert Doug Anderson about the benefits of sealing and insulating your home, and how you can get started this fall.

In yesterday’s blog, I talked about why sealing and insulating your home is one of the most important winter preparations you can do this fall. So if you are ready to get started, the first thing you will need to do is run a quick check of your home and list all of the opportunities for air sealing and adding insulation.

Start with a quick check of your attic insulation

Gather up a few handy tools, including a ladder, flashlight and camera. Find and open your attic hatch(es) and enter the attic or simply look inside. You can take a few pictures with your camera or cell phone of the insulation to study later or show to a retail associate or contractor so they understand what your current insulation levels are.

A rule of thumb is if the insulation is level with or below the floor joists, you probably need to add more insulation. You can also measure the depth to calculate the R-value. Typically you want at least R-30. It is recommended that you have R-48 in Northern climates.

Figure 1 - Add more insulation

Figure 1 – Add more insulation


Figure 2 - Probably enough insulation

Figure 2 – Probably enough insulation

 Next check for air leaks in the attic

While you are in the attic, do a quick visual inspection for common locations of air leaks. All you will need is a note pad, pen, flashlight and camera.  Record these in a sketch and take pictures so you know where to come back to later seal them.

Then check for air leaks in the rest of the house

Walk around the interior and exterior of your home and do a similar visual inspection for common locations of air leaks in around the house. You can also run simple do-it-yourself tests that can help you find hidden leaks and test if air is actually passing through gaps and cracks.

Want a more thorough evaluation?

Consider hiring a home energy professional to perform a comprehensive energy audit to find hidden air leaks, pinpoint specific solutions for your home, and identify potential safety issues.

Get started!

Once you have a list of potential insulating and air sealing projects, visit the newly updated Seal and Insulate with ENERGY STAR website for guidance on how to prioritize your projects based on three factors: effort and costs, savings opportunity, and the problem you would like to fix.

Do 1 Thing ENERGY STAR this week. Check your home insulation and look for air leaks!

Doug Anderson is an ENERGY STAR Project Manager and has been with EPA for 13 years. He works on issues related to the home envelope, including insulation products and energy efficient residential windows.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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2 Responses leave one →
  1. kath morgan permalink
    September 7, 2014

    Checking for air leaks and fixing them up is a really good idea. This would ensure you get the most comfort out of your home insulation. Additionally, this is an effective way to save energy as much as possible. Thanks for the tips you provided in your article.

    Tiptop Insulation
    In Home Insulation Specialists Adelaide

  2. Frank Metzel permalink
    October 9, 2014

    Hello, could you please advise on loft legs and loft lifters stilts for insulating an ttic? What is your view?

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