I’m sure you work hard to earn a living and it’s not the easiest thing to do. So in this article I am going to give you a few facts so you can quickly evaluate your home and discover if you are burning your paychecks. I know that I would love to have the years worth of money that went through my roof. So lets get started with some facts.
Believe it or not the Department of Energy estimates that 80 million homes in the US are currently under insulated and wasting energy. Heating homes is also still the number one use of energy in the US. Wow! In this day and age of the highest fuel prices and energy conservation awareness this would seem to be a great place to start. Yet it’s a topic of very little awareness.
If you live in a climate that has hot summers and/or cold winters it is easy to save 20% or more on your energy bills for a modest investment by properly insulating your attic. My experience is that this investment will pay for itself in as little as one year, after that it’s money in the bank. There is no easier way to make money than to save money!
So how do I know if I need attic insulation? One way to determine that is to look in your attic. Usually you only have to peek through the attic hatch and stick a tape measure in the insulation and measure the thickness. Insulation R-Value (Heat Loss Resistance) varies with different types of insulation, but in general you want to see about 18″ for an R-Value of R-49. An easier way to determine your R-Value is to contact a professional insulation contractor in your area. They will do a free estimate for you. If they won’t do a free estimate call someone who will! This is worth doing just for their experience in properly determining R-Values and spotting other problems.
So I’ve determined that I need to insulate my attic. Which type should I use? There are four basic types of insulation used in attics. Rolled batts, blown fiberglass, foam spray and cellulose.
Batts: These are a reasonable solution for small easy jobs without a lot of obstructions. Layers can be overlaid in opposite directions to achieve higher R-Values.
Foam Spray: This material has the highest R-Value of the four types. It requires special equipment and professional installation. This is the most effective insulation but by far the most expensive.
Blown Cellulose Insulation: This material is very common today. You will find this in most new homes. It is essentially recycled newspaper that has been treated for fire protection. Cellulose is reasonably priced but will settle in no time and loose R-Value. It also can hold up to 20% of it’s weight in moisture which is a bad thing. Cellulose is heavy to start with since it is paper and has thickness limitations. Cellulose can become especially heavy when it absorbs moisture. Being organic mold is always a concern also. I never sell, install or recommend Cellulose.
Blown Fiberglass Insulation: This is in my opinion the best attic insulation solution available. As a Insulation contractor in Columbus, Ohio we exclusively use Owens Corning blown fiberglass insulation on our jobs. The material has a good R-Value, is very light, virtually no settling (maintains it’s R-Value), is inorganic so mold is of no concern and retains essentially no moisture to make weight a concern. Since this material is so light we can blow a job up to much higher R-Values than cellulose. I should also mention more cost effective!