Are you spending a lot of money on heating but you find that your home isn’t as warm as you want it to be? The problem may not be with your heating system, but rather with your attic.

Because hot air rises, heat tends to keep going, even after passing your ceiling. In fact, according to the DIY Network, 85 percent of a house’s heat escapes straight up through the attic. Luckily, there’s a way to end this waste. Here’s how to improve the insulation in your attic:

Nix the storage

Attics are a common storage space, but the room that you’re using for odds and ends may be better used for insulation. Before you begin the process of re-insulating your attic, take everything out of it and strip it down to studs. Once you’re all done, you may have space for some items, but you’re likely better off finding other spots for them.

Prep work

Once everything is out of the way, take a look at the insulation that’s already there. In most cases, you can simply put the new insulation right over the old. If any of the insulation looks compressed, water-stained or moldy, it’s no longer effective, and so should be removed. If your house was built or last insulated before 1990, seek professional help for the removal, as the insulation may contain asbestos deposits. Once everything is out, take measurements to determine square footage and depth requirements.

R value

The effectiveness of insulation is measured by its R value. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, homes in hot climates should use a minimum R value of 30, those in moderate areas should go with at least 38, and colder parts of the country should stick to 49 or higher. This, and the measurements you took in the previous step, is how you determine how much insulation to get.

Seal leaks

Before you start installing the insulation, inspect your attic for any air leaks. These typically occur around windows, chimneys and flues, ducts, pipes and any other parts of your home’s infrastructure that run through the attic. Any gaps should be sealed with caulking or other appropriate materials.

Box out lights

Unless you use mineral wool insulation or light fixtures that are rated as safe for insulation contact, insulation should not be put near lights, as it presents a fire hazard. Use plywood or metal flashing to create a gap of at least three inches around all fixtures.

Gear up

When working with any type of insulation, it’s important to protect yourself from its fibers. Wear a long sleeve shirt, long pants, goggles, work gloves and a mask to cover your mouth. Also, have a piece of plywood handy and use it to work on instead of trying to balance on the joists.

Back to front

During the installation process, you want to do as little backtracking as possible to avoid decompressing the insulation. Plan out your work so that you finish at the door or hatch. 

During the installation

If you’re using two types of insulation in order to achieve your target R value, always put the heavier one down first. This will help reduce decompression. When using rolled insulation, cut around any obstacles, like pipes or the chimney. Cut as close to them as possible to reduce any gaps and if spaces in the insulation appear, use smaller strips to plug the holes.

By following these steps, you can save on your home home heating oil costs throughout the year. To learn more about other ways to make heating and cooling your home more efficient, schedule a FREE in-home energy consultation

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