Ask Eartha – Preventing pesky ice dams |

Ask Eartha – Preventing pesky ice dams

by Eartha Stewards
High Country Conservation Center

Dear Eartha,

I have ice dams on my roof every winter. I’ve used heat tape in the past to melt the snow but it seems to cost a lot. What do you recommend?

This is a great question, and with winter right around the corner, you have plenty of time to work at preventing ice dams from forming in the first place. Ice dams and subsequent roof leaks are usually caused by heat loss through the attic or vaulted ceiling. Preventing ice dams can be a pretty quick fix, by focusing your efforts on air sealing and insulating spaces that are losing heat.

When you insulate properly, you’re also keeping your house warmer during chilly winter months and cooler in the summer. Keeping your home toasty in the winter is a large part of the financial and environmental costs of your household.

While it might seem like an easy choice, heat tape or de-icing cable are inefficient and costly ways to solve ice damming problems. Heat tape uses a lot of electricity. If 100 lineal feet of cable is utilized for six months of the year, it will consume more than 2600 KWh of electricity at a cost of $300 at 32 degrees, and even more at our cold Summit County temperatures.

Believe it or not, many homes in our area have very little or no attic insulation. These homes are losing a lot of heated air and, with it, money. Even without ice-damming problems, insulating and air-sealing will cost you less than other improvements and will give you the best return on your investment, an average of 30 percent on your energy bill in cold climates.

With winter fast approaching, now is the time to insulate your home and your project could be eligible for incentives and rebates. Governors Energy Office rebates have just been increased to 40 percent for insulation jobs. Xcel energy will contribute another 20 percent, and the Federal Tax incentive is 30 percent.

Visit the High Country Conservation Center’s website to find out more about rebates or give the High Country Conservation Center a ring at (970) 668-5703.

This Eartha Steward was written by guest writer, Lynne Westerfield, Community Energy Coordinator with the High Country Conservation Center.

Eartha Steward is written by Jennifer Santry and Erin Makowsky, consultants on all things eco and chic at the High Country Conservation Center, a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization dedicated to waste reduction and resource conservation in our mountain community. Submit questions to Eartha at or to High Country Conservation Center, PO Box 4506, Frisco, CO 80443.

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