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Insulate Ceiling to Keep Lower Level Warm?

  • Transcript

    LESLIE: Craig in Illinois is calling in with a heating and insulation question. Tell us about it.

    CRAIG: I got an upstairs – the upstairs part of my home, we don’t use it, so I’m losing a lot of heat into the upstairs. I’d like to actually just save in the bottom section of the home where – just use the lower level. It’s a story-and-a-half house.

    TOM: OK.

    CRAIG: And what I’m wondering is, can I get away with insulating up in the lower level, into the ceiling up there? You know, up in the living room and dining room area, up there.

    TOM: Can you access that area?

    CRAIG: That’s what I’m wondering. What I’m going to do, I’ve got to re-side the place anyway, so scuffy, old cedar-clad siding. I think I could access it from the outside, couldn’t I?

    TOM: Well, you – possibly. You’re probably going to end up doing something like blown-in. I don’t see a reason that you couldn’t insulate the floor space between the first and second floor, to try to cut down on your heating loss. Well, frankly, a lot of folks do that for sound deadening, as well.

    CRAIG: Oh, OK. OK.

    TOM: If you have noise you’re trying to isolate between the first and the second floor. But I’d rather think about a better way to make your house warmer and save money on your energy bills, instead of doing something like that. Have you done an energy audit yet of the entire house, Craig?

    CRAIG: No. That I haven’t.

    TOM: That would be the first place to start. And you can do it yourself or there are low-cost programs – government-subsidized programs – or an energy auditor can come in and do it for you. And then they also have low-cost loans if there are repairs that need to be done.

    But there may be a lot better, more efficient ways to reduce your heating costs and make you more comfortable than tearing open the siding and trying to put insulation in places it normally doesn’t go.

    CRAIG: Oh, OK, OK. I just figured heat rises. I figured I was losing quite a bit of heat just going up into the upstairs, also, so …

    TOM: Yeah. Well, you might be and you probably are to some extent but I’d rather you start at the beginning and do an assessment of the entire house and the energy efficiency of the entire house and then, with that information, make the best decisions on where you want to improve it to save some money.

    CRAIG: Oh, OK, OK. Because I had had a house fire about three years ago and it was a total gut job but the contractor did a really poor job on it. Even the downstairs bedroom – my daughter can’t even sleep in the room, it’s so cold.

    TOM: Yeah. You may not have insulation in places that you should and a good energy auditor can identify that. They have infrared cameras that can scan walls and find places where insulation is missing, for example.

    CRAIG: I’m wondering – I don’t know. I’m going to have to look into that.

    TOM: Alright, Craig. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

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