What are the Best Tips for Cost-Effective Attic Heating?

Diane Goettel
Diane Goettel

The most cost-effective methods of attic heating include the use of insulation and ventilation. In many cases, people do not need to alter or replace their heating systems in order to properly heat their attics. This is because heat rises and, with proper insulation and ventilation, an attic can be kept comfortably warm even in the coldest winter months. One of the reasons that may attics are drafty and cold is that they are not properly insulated and they are also cut off from the rest of the house. There are a number of cost-effective ways to change these two things in order to turn a chilly attic space into a warm, comfortable living space.

A space heater can be a cost-effective way to heat an attic.
A space heater can be a cost-effective way to heat an attic.

If an attic is not already insulated, then the homeowner will have to choose what type of insulation to install. If the attic is insufficiently insulated, then the homeowner will have to decide whether the insulation should be replaced or merely supplemented. Another important step in cost-effective attic heating is assessing the windows in the attic. Windows that are loose in their frames or are made of single-pane glass can allow a great deal of heat to escape. A cost-effective way to deal with windows that are leaking heat is to have them covered in plastic wrap that can be removed in the summer when the windows will be opened again.

Double-paned windows can maximize the amount of sunlight that enters an attic.
Double-paned windows can maximize the amount of sunlight that enters an attic.

Once the attic has been properly insulated, the next step is to make sure that heat from the rest of the house can get into the attic. This may be as simple as keeping a door to the attic open on a more regular basis or even removing the door from its hinges and storing it. Some attics have pull-down staircases that, when open, obstruct a hallway. In these cases, it may be necessary to install a few vents in the floor of the attic. These vents will allow warm air from the rest of the house to rise into the attic.

Attic heating for very small attics may be as simple as the occasional use of a space heater. This kind of attic heating is usually not ideal for larger spaces and only works well if the attic has been insulated. A slightly more expensive way to deal with attic heating is to install double-paned windows that maximize the amount of sun that enters the attic.

Diane Goettel
Diane Goettel

In addition to her work as a freelance writer for wiseGEEK, Diane is the executive editor of Black Lawrence Press, an independent publishing company based in upstate New York. She has also edited several anthologies, the e-newsletter Sapling, and The Adirondack Review. Diane has a B.A. from Sarah Lawrence College and an M.A. from Brooklyn College.

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Discussion Comments


Heating is much less of an issue with an attic than simple ventilation. You want to have a good venting system in your home attic to lessen the chances of mold growing. I think a good venting fan or several of them is the best way to go in terms of keeping the moisture out of the attic.

The fan will keep the air circulating and lower the temperature in the attic during the summer. We all want to save money on energy, but in terms of attics it is much more important to prevent mold from getting a foothold.


@Laotionne - I don't worry about any additional heating in my attic. As this article explains, all the heat from the main living quarters of a house is going to rise, and since the ceiling of this part of the house is the attic floor this heat alone is going to raise the attic temperature some.

In my opinion, you should be more concerned if you don't have a special way of heating the attic and your attic is still getting warm. This means you are losing too much heat through your ceiling. Insulate the attic and you should be good to go.

Also, if you are concerned the attic is too cold then take the advice mentioned in the article and open the attic door for a little while until the attic warms up a bit.


I went into my mother's attic last winter and it was freezing up there. So, I am wondering whether heating the attic is something the average homeowner should be concerned about. I mean, if the attic is only used for storage is there any problem with letting it get cold in the winter?

I can understand the attic needing some type of heating system if you are using it as living space. Otherwise, why bother? I think a small portable heater like mentioned in the article would be the most she would need. And she would only need that when she is going to be up there for a while.

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