Have you ever seen infrared photos of homes with no attic insulation? They literally pour all their thermal energy right up through the roof. Just like wearing a hat in winter keeps your entire body warm—because much of the human body’s heat escapes through the head—insulating your attic will keep heat in your home in the winter, and keep your home cool in the summer, too.
1. Insulate Your Wallet!
When you insulate your attic, typical heating and cooling cost savings in a standard three bedroom home can run approximately $500-$600 per year. If you keep your home for even ten years, the energy savings can be quite significant—and far exceed the cost of insulating.
2. Find Out If Your Home Needs It
Here’s a quick and easy experiment to see if you need to insulate: leave a thermometer in the attic on a cold night, and check it in the morning. If it’s closer to the temperature inside your house than the temperature outside, you’re leaking heat through your ceilings big-time, and attic insulation is calling your name.
3. Find Out Why
And here’s an Energy Star site that will tell you exactly why you should insulate.
4. What Type is Right For You?
Okay, let’s assume you’re convinced you need to insulate—what next? You’ll want to take a look at your attic and decide on the type of insulation you need. Typically, there are three types: blown-in cellulose or fiberglass insulation, insulation batts and fiberglass insulation rolls.
5. Insulation Blowers
The blown-in cellulose type usually comes from an insulation contractor, although you can rent the equipment and DIY (some home improvement stores will loan you an insulation blower free when you buy the cellulose). With forced air and a big hose, the contractor fills the horizontal surfaces of your attic with loose, fluffy cellulose granules. Low-weight, highly energy efficient cellulose, which comes from recycled newspaper, requires little preparation beyond sealing air leaks, installing a vapor barrier and adding vent chutes to your eaves, so the insulation doesn’t block efficient air circulation in your attic.
6. Fiberglass Insulation Blankets
In either rolls or batts—usually pink, and made to fit between the rafters that hold your roof up or your ceiling studs—can also make your attic much more energy-efficient. Relatively easy to install, fiberglass insulation does a good job, unless you live in a particularly wet climate--or your roof leaks. Wet fiberglass has no insulation value and creates a mess—so make sure your attic is free of leaks or high humidity, which is generally a problem related to insufficient venting—before you install fiberglass or cellulose. Also, prior to starting your insulation project, check out the insulation R-values recommended for your climate here.
7. Rigid Foam Insulation
Which usually comes in large 4x8 foot sheets, can work well, too—although getting them into an already-finished attic space could pose an insurmountable problem. Most rigid foam insulation is used in new construction (or when re-roofing), and isn’t very practical for retrofitting.
Good luck with your insulation project, and enjoy those lower energy bills!