Cool Your Attic; Lower Electric Bill

By Amy Davis - Reporter/Consumer Expert

HOUSTON - It may surprise you, but the attic is the hottest part of a house. Even though you don't spend much time up there, energy experts said cooling that space is the key to cooling your whole house and lowering your electric bill.

That is why contractors with the KSEV Radio and Thirty-Green Home Energy Savings Makeover started from the top of Tim and Terri Garcia's Spring Branch home.

"The first thing we want to do is get the thing breathing," said Brent Farrell of Recraft Construction Services & Green Remodeling. "It makes simple sense. When your attic is super hot, when it's 150 degrees plus in your attic, that's just gonna transfer down through your house."

Workers started by sucking out all of the old insulation from the attic. After years of humidity and heat, the insulation gets weighted down and just doesn't work as well. Then, crews installed vents to let the trapped hot air out of the attic.

Jim Kuchenbrod of Energy Complete applied a sealer to all of the holes and cracks in the attic to keep any hot air from leaking down into the house.

"One little hole doesn't sink a ship," Kuchenbrod explained. "But thousands of little holes sinks a ship."

Once the seal was set, crews from Heat Blockers installed a radiant barrier. The barrier that is stapled to the rafters is different from the spray-on kind for several reasons.

"The main difference is going to be placement," Nick Walker said.

He said the spray-on barrier actually heats up the shingles on your roof, lowering their life span. The barrier that looks like foil and is stapled on allows air to flow between the rafters and the roof.

"It actually vents the attic faster," said Walker. "It doesn't increase the shingle temperature even by one degree."

The last step in cooling the Garcia's attic was installing a solar-powered attic fan. The fan helps the hot air out without adding a cent to their electric bill.

"With proper ventilation, the insulation works better, the HVAC system works better, the shingles last longer," said Jim Hudson with Attic Breeze. "There's just many other benefits other than just saving kilowatt hours."

The radiant barrier like the one installed in the Garcia's home would cost about $3,700 for a 2,000-square-foot home. The product claims to lower your electric bill by about 25 to 30 percent. Getting one installed also makes you eligible for a $300 tax credit.

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