Recessed lighting continues to be a popular way to illuminate rooms. These lights provide a minimalist, uncluttered look that works well for contemporary decor. But many homeowners aren’t aware that they’re also a major source of leaking air, letting out conditioned air into the unconditioned attic, and wasting energy.

Why Recessed Lighting Is Inefficient

Punching holes into the ceiling obviously creates a number of exits for conditioned air, and can lead to the need to turn the thermostat down in the summer and up in the winter. Each recessed light can result in energy losses from $5 to $30 a year, according to research from Penn State University.

Just one of these lights is equivalent to 1 sq. ft. of uninsulated attic space. Multiply that by 20, and you have, in essence, an entire door opening up in the attic.

What’s more, recessed lighting can also allow a considerable amount of moisture into the attic, creating problems with mold.

So, what can be done to improve your home’s efficiency when you have recessed lights?

Insulating Recessed Lighting

Some efficiency experts recommend not installing recessed lighting at all, but if you’re attached to yours and you just want to make them less leaky, there are solutions.

  1. Buy or build sealed boxes made of fire-rated materials such as duct board or sheetrock. The light fixtures should be covered on the attic floor.
  2. Install an airtight retrofit, which would eliminate most of the air leaks.
  3. If your lighting is rated for insulation contact, you can insulate around and over the fixtures. Lighting rated for insulation contact will have an “IC” printed inside or outside the canister. If yours has this imprint, you can add loose-fill or batts around the canisters, between the light cans and the ceiling, and also on top of them. Insulation may be added on top of the cans even if the attic insulation is already to the top of the attic joists.

For more on increasing HVAC efficiency when you have recessed lights in the ceiling, contact Mowery Heating, Cooling and Plumbing of Indianapolis.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in Brownsburg, Indiana and surrounding areas about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).

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