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I live in Colorado, and the weather is starting to warm up. In a couple months, the temperatures will rise pretty high. Thankfully, I have a well insulated house (there is over 20 inches of fiberglass insulation covering the entire floor of my attic) that keeps me nice and warm during the winter for relatively low cost. Conversely, that excellent insulation makes maintaining a livable temperature very, very costly during the summer months, despite Colorado's rather moderate summer weather (in the grand scheme of things.) I would keep my windows open, however I am just close enough to busy roads that keeping windows open is an impractical solution during the night (which is really when I need things to be cool.)

I have noticed a variety of venting systems that can be installed in homes, involving foundation vents, intake vents, and attic venting systems. From all the information I've been able to find, it sounds like such a system can greatly reduce the energy costs required to keep a home cool during summer months. I have some concerns however, since I live in a well-seasoned state where winter temperatures can get down to around -15°F.

Given the seasonal temperature dichotomy, would it be wise to install an attic venting system? If so, what is really necessary for the whole system to function? I am not sure if intake vents are necessary, and if they are, how they might affect the insulation of my house during sub-zero winter weather.

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I think an attic ventilation system will definitely help with your problems. Fortunately, you can also sort of step up with ventilation as you go, adding powered fans if the vents you put in at first dont work as well as you'd expect.

In the winter, having a properly vented attic will help prevent ice dams in gutters, and can help with heat problems in the summer too. In your attic (above the insulation) should ideally be close to the same temperature as the outside. It should be cold in the winter, and hot in the summer.

For the ventilation, you should have some soffit vents on the bottom and a vent on the side (near the top) or on the top (like a ridge-line vent). That will allow the air to move freely.

If the air doesn't move as well as you'd like, you can wire in an attic fan to help push the air along.

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I believe I currently have three ridgeline vents, however they are not powered in any way, and I do not believe they have any fans in them (powered or otherwise.) Would it be valuable to add a powered fan, or does that not really change things much? –  jrista Mar 30 '11 at 3:45
    
Do you have any soffit vents in addition to those ridgeline vents? If not, that is the problem, because there is no airflow path for the cooler air to come in at the bottom to replace the warmer air that is leaving through the ridgeline bents. If you do already have soffit vents, then I would install a fan. A fan like this can be installed almost anywhere, and has an adjustable thermostat so it only runs when it needs to: lowes.com/… –  trip0d199 Mar 30 '11 at 14:54
    
I do have a few...but only a very few. I think I counted four on the entire house, and they look pretty small. –  jrista Mar 30 '11 at 20:58
    
I would start by adding some more soffit vents then - that should help. The vents aren't expensive, and can be installed fairly easily. –  trip0d199 Mar 31 '11 at 14:38
    
Thanks fore the help, trip. Looks like I do have quite a few soffit vents already. I've decided to put a lightly powered fan in behind a vent on the back side of my house. I think that will do what I need it to do. –  jrista Apr 13 '11 at 3:16
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