When making our home more efficient, we often focus on windows, doors and ventilations. However, attic and basement also play a part in this subject. After many years, the attic may start to have a number of small openings that allows cold air to blow inside the house. This will cause the heating system to work harder and longer, increasing the overall energy bill. Attics tend to degrade more easily because humid and warm air usually accumulates at the attic. The increased humidity will cause materials to degrade and mold to grow. In many houses, there’s only insulation in the attic. One basic concept that we should know that insulation is meant to reduce the conductive heat flow between the interior and exterior, not to retard airflow. So, it is important to examine whether the insulation is still in proper contact with the plaster ceiling or sheetrock to ensure effective thermal barrier. Air tends to flow between the surface of the insulation and the surface of the ceiling, resulting in gradual loss of heat energy from inside the house.
It is a good idea to check more closely if the attic has fibreglass insulation, because it is not efficient for stopping the flow of air. The same also applies for cellulose insulation that reduces the flow, but can’t stop it. We need to check all the penetrations on the attic, such as open cavities, chimney system, mechanical, electrical and plumbing. The insulation should be suitable to the type of material around it. With just 7 percent void with the insulation, it is possible that we will lose 50 percent of the heat in the attic area. If the heating system near the attic is working extra hard compared to other parts of the house, we should be concerned. There is a possibility an energy leak somewhere inside the attic. Another thing that causes the loss of heat in the attic is the hatch and we need enough heat to keep things warm. Although the hatch is probably insulated, it may not be properly air sealed, which causes some amount of heat energy to escape to the exterior. In this case, the insulation actually has no role at all in keeping our interior warm.
Basement is also an important part of our house and when making our house more energy efficient, we shouldn’t pretend that it doesn’t exist. In reality, basement can be a major contributor of energy loss in our home. Solid and hard concrete of our basement has decent thermal conductivity, it can be quite freezing inside the basement during the winter. The frozen soil and snow will have direct contact with the concrete layer of our basement, causing gradual and significant heat loss. The basement is also often used as the storage area, where we keep paints, firewood and chemicals. It is also the place where the central heating system is installed. It is a good idea to improve the basement, by putting non-conductive layer to prevent too much heat from being transferred to the frozen soil and hard snow outside through the concrete.