Is Energy Escaping Through Your Attic?

Don't let your energy dollars take flight. Capture savings with these energy-efficiency measures.


Your energy budget is something you want to keep in house. If you have a poorly insulated attic, however, those energy dollars are slipping up, up and away. What can you do? Grab a flashlight, a tape measure and a pair of gloves. Head up to your attic and find ways to keep your energy costs down.

Look at your insulation

Adding attic insulation is one of the most effective ways to reduce heating and cooling costs, but how do you know if you have the right amount? If there's no insulation up there, that's a no brainer. Call a qualified contractor right away.

If you do have insulation, you'll have to find out what type you have and how much. Most attics have batt insulation or loose-fill. Batt insulation is that fuzzy stuff that comes in rolls with brown paper on the back; insulation level is measured in R-value, which should be listed on the brown paper.

If you have loose-fill insulation, calculating the R-value is a little trickier. Shove a ruler or tape measure down into the insulation at several places in the attic to measure the depth. Loose-fill comes in different types (fiberglass, rock wool), each requiring a different depth to meet the R-value you need.

Check your insulation R-value against recommended levels for your climate zone. If you fall short, you're losing energy and money. Adding insulation to your attic is a cost-effective way to save energy and a project you can do yourself.

Sealing in savings

You've got the right level of insulation and it's installed correctly. You're good to go, right? Well, not so fast. All of that extra insulation won't do much good if there's a lot of air escaping through gaps or holes in your attic.

Locate all ceiling fans, recessed lighting fixtures and electrical outlets in the ceiling below your attic. Each of these is a potential source of air leakage. From the attic, pull back the insulation to find the cutouts and seal them with caulk or expandable foam. Check for and seal gaps around plumbing vents, furnace flues and ductwork. Also, seal the attic door or access with weatherstripping. See Attic Air Sealing Project from ENERGY STAR® for more information and step-by-step instructions.

Get a home energy assessment

Not a do-it-yourselfer? No problem. A qualified home energy professional can help you find cost-saving opportunities in your attic and throughout your home. For more details, see Home Energy Assessment from the U.S. Department of Energy.