According to the North American Insulation Manufacturers Association (NAIMA), 90% of homes in the United States are under-insulated.
One of the most cost-effective and easiest ways to make your home more energy-efficient is to have additional insulation installed in your attic. Insulation technology has greatly improved over the past decade. It plays a crucial role in making sure that your home’s heating and air-conditioning are circulated and contained. Today, even a small investment can yield big results when it comes to your energy bills.
Your attic’s floor layer of insulation is one of the most important thermal barriers of your home in any climate. During the winter, your attic’s insulation prevents heated air from rising through the top floor and into the attic. And during the summer, it prevents super-hot attic air from seeping down into your home’s rooms.
If the top floor of your home feels too warm during summer days or too cold during winter evenings, that’s reason enough to check out your insulation. It’s best to talk to a professional, but there are some things you can look out for yourself. To make things easy, we’ve put together a list of signs that your attic needs more insulation.
It doesn’t take a trained eye to figure out whether you need more insulation. All you need is a tape measure or yardstick, and maybe a flashlight if you don’t have enough lighting in the attic.
Look around in every direction from the attic hatch. If you can see the floor joists – the boards about 8” high spread a few feet apart across the floor – you likely need an additional layer of insulation installed. Whether you have fluffy blanket-like material, known as batt insulation, or shredded material, known as loose fill, there should be enough to completely cover the joists.
If you look in your attic and see bare spots near the edges, you may need more insulation. Filling in these bare spots is extremely important because conditioned air can escape through these gaps. This air leakage can add up in a major way, leaving you paying the price in the from of higher energy bills.
One efficient place to add insulation is the attic floor, but when you install a plywood floor so you can use the area for storage, there may not be enough room under that floor for adequate insulation. Instead, you can opt to add insulation between the studs and rafters of the exterior walls and roof.
Your attic’s entrance is one of the easiest places to start when it comes to making your attic more energy efficient. Sealing and insulating your attic’s entrance, whether it’s an attic hatch or scuttle hole, can be simple and save you from needless air leakage.
You want to make sure the air in your attic stays in the attic, and the air below stays where it should. Installing attic access insulation can ensure these two stay separate. Separating the air helps to contain heating and air conditioning, which contributes to energy cost savings each month.
You can also weatherstrip the area around the attic door to remove small gaps, especially at the front end of attic hatch entrances, where air is likely to leak out and cause attic drafts. Another easy solution is to utilize foam sealant. Often, attic accesses have small gaps from the original attic installation that cause air penetrations over time.
There are many reasons why your energy bills may spike throughout the year—such as an aging HVAC system, drafty doors and windows, and dirty filters. If none of those are a factor in your home, your attic may be to blame. Without adequate insulation, an attic can let massive amounts of air escape from the home, making your HVAC system work harder to maintain a consistent temperature. The EPA estimates that homeowners can save an average of 15% on their annual heating and cooling costs by adding insulation in the attic.
If the signs above have convinced you that it’s time to add more insulation to your attic, then the next step is to decide which type of insulation is best for your home. Whether you decide to DIY the job or hire a professional, it’s important to know the ins and outs of the most common varieties of insulation. There are two main types of attic insulation:
Loose fill insulation is packed in bags and can be blown in place using special machinery you can rent from most big box home stores. If renting machinery isn’t an option, you can also spread loose fill insulation manually, but this process is much more labor-intensive. If you’re a seasoned DIY-er who is comfortable working with power equipment, loose fill insulation is an ideal choice. Loose fill insulation is also ideal for:
You’ll find this insulation material in pre-packaged rolls that come in a variety of widths and thicknesses. You can add one or more layers to reach your desired level of insulation. Unlike loose fill insulation, batts don’t require power equipment for an optimal installation. Batts are best for DIY-ers who are comfortable cutting and fitting the material to fit around obstructions throughout the attic.
If you want to maximize the energy efficiency of your home, Chas Roberts can help. From regular HVAC maintenance to helping you upgrade to a new system; the comfort and efficiency of your home is important to us. Contact us to get started.