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Save energy and save money: Seal attic air leaks

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Sealing attic bypasses

Even though this winter is milder than usual in many parts of the country, you're probably still paying more than you should to heat your house. Even if you've checked your attic insulation levels and you're sure you've got enough (a big if), you're still likely to have the equivalent of a 2-ft.-square hole in your ceiling that's acting like a chimney, drafting expensive heated air into your attic and replacing it with cold outside air, mostly from around your windows and doors. Those gaps are called attic bypasses.

OK, it's not a huge gaping hole that you can actually see (if it is, you've got bigger problems than high heating bills). Rather, it's many smaller openings around electrical wires, plumbing pipes, light fixtures, chimneys and other attic bypasses that are hidden under your attic insulation.

All these small air leaks into your attic are a major source of heat loss. It means all winter long, mild or not, you're wasting warm air and driving up your heating bills. And come this summer, you'll be leaking cool air into your attic and driving up your air conditioning bills.

Stop the madness right now! Locating these leaky spots and plugging them up is easy and inexpensive and only takes a few hours. And right now is a good time to do it. Working up in an attic anytime of the year is not exactly fun, but it's incredibly hot during the summer. At least during the cooler months, working in the attic doesn't actually constitute torture. Mostly the task just means digging around in the insulation to find anything that penetrates up through the ceiling and filling any gaps around them with expanding foam.

You'll find everything you need to seal your attic bypasses at any full-service hardware store, home center or lumberyard. And we've got a great story on our Web site that will walk you through the whole process step-by-step.

So, c'mon. The Super Bowl's over, which means your Sunday schedule is suddenly wide open. Check out our story online and do yourself a favor. Seal your attic air leaks this weekend and start saving energy and money.

— Elisa Bernick, Associate Editor

Check out this great article for easy step-by-step instructions about how to seal attic air leaks.

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