There's no getting around it: If your house is in a cold climate, keeping it warm in winter is expensive. The Department of Energy predicts that prices for natural gas and heating oil will rise again this winter compared with last—and that's after a year in which heating-oil prices rose sharply in most parts of the country.
Sure, you can dial down the thermostat and get used to wearing bulky sweaters indoors to cut costs. But if you've got an unfinished attic, giving it proper insulation is one of the simplest ways to keep a lid on your heating bill this season. "It's a DIY project you can tackle in a weekend, and the savings you'll get add up every year," says TOH general contractor Tom Silva. The Department of Energy estimates that a properly insulated attic can shave 10 to 50 percent off your heating bill. And it works the opposite way for warm climates; in summer, it helps stabilize your house's indoor temps to keep cooling needs in check.
In a perfect world, you'd hire an energy auditor to tell you exactly how much protection you're getting from the few inches of attic insulation you may already have and to pinpoint things like air leaks that you can seal to make sure your insulation will do its job well. But if you can't afford to shell out a few hundred bucks for this service, never fear: We've rounded up all the most important know-how about attic insulation products, prep work, and installation right here. Keep reading for the details.