How can i keep my attic warm on a small budget?

I live in my attic year round. its managable, however when the overhead stars are open, it sucks the heat from the rest of the house. I live in a VERY old house (still bark on the beams) with a metal roof but no insulation in the attic. i would love to not have to put in insulation and finish the ceiling (sheet rock etc.) because it would be costly and make it unhospitable in the summer. I was hopeing that someone out there had a very cool method for keeping some heat in, or creating cheap heat easily. the rouble is that all the heat simply goes out the roof, so space heaters wont work. thank you very muxh for your help! ~farley

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mark10110 years ago
If this is a roof, it has to be open to the air. You should not block the air from coming in with caulking and plastic etc. Why? All the wood will go moldy/rotten, and within 5 years you will have to pay maybe 50,000 for a new roof. More proof? Look at any attic anywhere. There usually is first a vapour barrier and then several inchs of insulation on the "floor" of the attic.Maybe you have some wood ontop of the insulation? You see those spinning metal things on roofs? They are there to vent air through the attic.
Mr.Devious10 years ago
If there's any cracks or holes in the walls that could possibly be letting a draft in, get some mono and fill the cracks in. Putting plastic up could be a temporary fix, try putting it on the windows at least as that should help to some point, that's what I do in the winter. Sooner or later you're going to need to get insulation put in, you can't avoid it really, perhaps blown in insulation would be down your road. That stuff works like magic and will keep a room nice and warm. But for now if there isn't any heaters up there, get a 1500 watt oil heater.
trebuchet0310 years ago
Take a picture of the room for us ;)

If you have high ceilings, suspend blankets a lower height. Lower ceiling means less area to keep warm + the little insulation blankets provide ;)

You could re-route your house's dryer vent up there. I assume you're in a cold region where humidity is low so the humidity from the dryer probably wouldn't be bad...

Unfortunately, without some form of insulation, adding more heat seems futile. How is your roof supported? Do you have truss members following the roof line?
krazy00kanadian (author)  trebuchet0310 years ago
no trusses, unfortunatly i have no camera at the moment. i live in Maine, USA so its cold but not too humid in the winter. Very cool idea with the blankets, i think i may try this. i put that plastic over the windows, it helped a bit, but with no insulation the walls just suck the heat out. i think i will look into that plastic sheeting with paper over it as insulation, sounds interesting even if i dont use it. thank you very much!! ~farley
I don't understand how there are no trusses. Usually you have to have them, unless your sheathing is 6" thick and you only span 12'. My pont in this is that the exposed wood may be attahed to the trusses. If so, you can cut holes at the top of each joist space and blow in the cellulose like canida mentioned. Borrow a camera and get us a photo. Also, you can find insulation at construction job sites. Just ask the superintendant if you can have the extra, they will usually let you. Also, Drywall isn't very expensive, like $10.00 US for a 5x12 sheet. It is easy to put up and looks way better than blankets.
photozz10 years ago
it's all about airflow and heat transfer. the plastic is a pretty good idea, but it could cause the same issues with heat in the summer, and not look so great. It would be easier, on a grand scale, to cool the attic in the summer with more airflow than try to heat it in the winter. I would say start insulating, but make provisions for a high volume fan in the summer. You could go as far as using the roll fiberglass and simple paneling instead of Sheetrock. I see it all the time. If you take your time, it will look great. Prob do a fair size attic for only a few hundred (or less) dollars. Make sure you have the attic vented one way or another or the condensation and whatnot will start rotting the wood.
canida10 years ago
How about tacking sheet plastic up to keep a larger air between the rest of the attic and the roof? It's less effective than insulating, but fast and significantly cheaper as all you'd need is several rolls of thick painters' plastic (the cheap disposable dropcloth substitutes) and a staple gun. They sell kits to do this for your windows, but you'll need a much larger amount.
! Can you read minds :P That's why I was curious of the truss setup. In any case, I've seen this really cool insulation system that uses recycled bits of paper blown into plastic sheeting mounted just like that.
That solution sounds like it's one nesting mouse or squirrel away from an attic disaster! Otherwise cool, though. We had the recycled paper blown into the walls of our >100yo house in Boston a while back, and saw a significant change in our heating bills; it paid for itself in just a couple of years. Good stuff. If there aren't a nice set of trusses, creativity + rope + duct tape can work wonders for supporting plastic sheeting.