For about two months we have had a garage full of these:
and one of these:
Yeah, that’s right. Instead of blowing the extra cash flow from our tax return on something fun like a TV or vacation, Audrey let me air seal and insulate our attic and install a whole house fan. I know, that seems pretty lame. However, I had a few good arguments working for me:
- Insulating the attic would save us about $80 on our gas bill per year. I know that doesn’t sound like much, but that’s the equivalent of putting that money into a bank account earning interest at a rate of 20%.
- The house will feel more comfortable, especially in the summer. I calculated a 60-70% reduction in cooling loads. That’s a big deal to us since we don’t have central air conditioning or a swampcooler.
- One thing we noticed in the summertime is that it was hottest in the house in the evening when it was actually starting to cool down outside. It always took forever to get that cool air into the house, usually well into the night. What the fan does is move the hot air out of the house and attic, cooling the house down. A full air exchange happens in about 10 minutes.
- We had a 10 % Lowe’s coupon from moving that was about to expire and an “I know a guy” discount on the fan.
The actual work of doing the project wasn’t terribly complicated. Air sealing was tedious, but I’m glad I did it because I found some big holes in the ceiling around the furnace flue and above the bathroom vents. That was fixed by making a big mess with some silicone caulk and spray foam. Wiring the switch was the most difficult part. They have a remote control add on to avoid that, but I didn’t want to pay for it. Climbing around in the hot attic was about as much fun as it sounds. (Thanks Wayne and Joe for getting up there with me.)
The whole thing took the biggest toll on Cooper. He was out shopping with his mom and grandma when we cut the hole in the ceiling. Then when he got back I was up there with a headlamp and dust mask on. When he approached the hole unsure of what was going on I stuck my head out and said “Boo!” In my defense, he usually thinks that is funny. What he saw was the bright beam of a cyclops monster that had invaded our house and who probably eats little boys. He was terrified. I’ve never heard him scream like that. Poor kid. He never would come near enough to the hole again to show him it was just me. I’m sure he was more happy than anybody to see the grating finally go up.
We’re really hoping that it all makes a big difference this summer. If you’re interested in learning more check out these links:
- DIY Seal and Insulate with Energy Star – This is the guide I used to figure out the right way to do the air sealing especially. Make sure to follow their guidance on insulation baffles so your new insulation doesn’t block your vents.
- Tamarack Technologies – They make the fan we installed. Check out their video to see how it works.
- Home Energy Saver Pro – This is what I used to estimate our energy savings