Wrap Up Your Attic
By Megan Cohen
On World's Greenest Homes, innovative solar panel placement and other energy-smart tactics trim household electricity usage to a bare minimum. Installing radiant barrier foil in your attic is a novice-friendly DIY project that can seriously shrink your own home's energy footprint. Radiant foil can cut the environmental impact of your climate control systems by up to 13% annually.
Attic barrier foil provides extra insulation year-round, so you'll save energy every single time you flip on your heating or your air conditioning. The foil itself is a thin layer of aluminum which blocks radiant heat from seeping upwards through your roof during the winter, and blocks downward heat gain so your house stays cool during the summer. In a four-season climate, the energy savings can have a dramatic enough impact on your household's utility bills that your attic foil will pay for itself in six or seven years, and keep giving you lasting savings well after you've recouped your investment.
Because barrier foil is a relatively forgiving medium, if you have confidence with basic measuring, an ability to see and access your attic ceiling, and a willingness to handle a heavy-duty staple gun, you can slap up this great green solution in your own domicile over the course of a weekend, or in as little as a day if you have a friend or two to help you out. Basically, you want to create a loosely draped layer of foil covering the underside of your home's roof, which is the same as your attic's ceiling. So, you staple the foil to the ceiling. That's the short version-easy, right?
Okay, it's not quite that simple. The long version is that first you need to identify and measure the roof trusses in your attic, or the lines of roof decking if your trusses are covered, then cut your foil into strips that are appropriately sized to staple to the trusses. You'll have to go up and down into and out of your attic a bunch of times, and you'll probably sweat and complain a little along the way. But, although the process takes several steps, it's still a relatively quick endeavor with substantial and long-lasting results. Plus, the foil medium is pretty forgiving, so a few accidental tears or snips won't ruin your project, making this an attainable green upgrade for even relatively novice DIY-ers.