If you’ve noticed an increase in your energy bills as of late, one of the culprits could be a poorly insulated attic. In this blog, we’re going to cover what to look for, what R-value is, understanding the different types of insulation used for residential attics, and the benefits you can reap by updating or adding to your attic’s insulation.
Before you jump into this kind of project, be sure this is something that is in your wheelhouse. Removing and replacing insulation isn’t an easy task; and neither is determining what exactly is causing the issue. Your best bet would be calling a home energy professional like Energypro to help you determine what your best path forward is.
Let’s get started!
How Do I Know to Add or Replace Attic Insulation?
- High Energy Bills
As mentioned before, if your energy bill seems to be going through the roof, it could be an indicator of a poor insulation situation. But, this symptom could have many different root causes, so you’re going to want to investigate further before deciding to spend money on a project that may not need to be started.
- Varying Temperatures
If you notice an obvious temperature change between rooms, or even in different areas of the same room, you may be honing in on a poor insulation situation.
- Your Home Is Older
Many older homes don’t meet current building codes, so it’s no wonder the materials used to build them, or even the way they were built, is less efficient than newer homes.
Older homes will not have the appropriate amount of attic insulation, or the insulation will be settled, dislodged, or will simply be breaking down. A general rule of thumb is attic insulation should rise above the floor joists.
If you’re able to get into your attic and you can see the joists clearly (as in, the insulation does not come up and over the top of them,) then you know with almost complete certainty the attic is one of the main areas where you’re spending that more on your power bill.
- Water Damage
While you’re in the attic, take a look for matted or discolored (i.e. moldy) spots of insulation.
If you find any, then your roof is 100% leaking, and you’ve unfortunately stumbled upon a bigger issue than you thought. Call a professional roofing contractor immediately to have your roof repaired, then have the insulation in the affected areas removed and replaced.
Over time, animals may find a way into your attic, and that certainly doesn’t bode well for your insulation or home efficiency. If you hear or see small animals, rodents, or other pests in your attic, you’re going to want to call animal control services and work with them to have the animal/s removed.
Once your attic has been deemed pest-free, you’ll then be able to take a closer look at any possible damage they may have caused. Much like a leaky roof – damage from animals and pests isn’t something you want to wait to fix.
What Exactly is “R-Value”?
Insulation’s R-Value represents its ability to resist thermal resistance. The higher the number, the more resistant it is and more energy-efficient it is. But, that doesn’t mean you need to put R1,000,000 throughout your entire house (not that it exists, but you get the point!)
The climate you live in will dictate how much of what kind of insulation would be best for your home. Thankfully, you don’t have to do too much math! The US Department of Energy has this nifty chart you can reference to see what is recommended for your neck of the woods.
The Different Types of Residential Insulation
Once you’re done looking at the above chart, you can then best determine what kind of insulation you want. There are PLENTY to choose from, but here is an overview of the different types typically used in homes:
- Blanket batts and rolls: these are the most common and most cost-effective forms of home insulation. Typically made with fiberglass, this format is designed to fit standard widths between wall studs and floor joists, making installation pretty easy.
- Blown-in/Loose Fill: using an insulation blower, this type can be used in attics or for adding more insulation to finished areas.
- Foam Board or Rigid Foam Panels: These are typically used for unfinished walls, like the foundation and basement walls as well as in between floors. These are the most dense (higher/est R-Values,) which means they’ll reduce energy consumption considerably better than any other insulation out there.
- Spray Foam: You have two choices here – closed-cell and open-cell. Closed-cell has the highest R-value of any other insulation, but is more expensive than open-cell. Because this type of insulation requires some skill and finesse, we strongly recommend hiring a professional to come install it for you.
- Reflective or Radiant Barrier: Typically used in warmer climates, these work a little differently than regular insulation, so there is no R-Value for them. This kind of insulation aims to completely deflect heat away from your home. Homeowners in warm climates install these in the attic between joists.
To see our entry about insulation, click here.
The Benefits of Updating Attic Insulation
- You save MONEY!
This is a big draw for any homeowner looking to make energy-efficient upgrades. If your home is better insulated, your HVAC system won’t have to work as hard or as often to give you the climate you want. Less power used = money in your pocket!
- You help protect the environment.
If your HVAC unit isn’t running as often, it isn’t using as much power, which means your local power plant doesn’t have to produce as much, reducing their pollution (and yours, too!)
- You Protect Your HVAC System
Again, if your HVAC system isn’t running as hard or as often, you’re giving it a longer lifespan. Who wants to pay for a new system way early? You? We didn’t think so.
Update Your Attic Insulation With Energypro
If you think the time has come for your attic to get some extra attention, look no further than the experts at Energypro.
Not only can we help you with all your insulation questions and concerns, but we offer energy efficiency packages to help bring your power costs down even more.
Energypro packages can provide:
- Energy efficient upgrades like an LED light bulb package, a Google Nest Thermostat, attic tenting, and more.
- A detailed report on the condition of all major systems within your home, such as the insulation, ductwork, furnace, air conditioner, lighting, and water heater.
- Recommendations on other types of energy-efficient improvements you can make, as well as free estimates for those improvements.
Contact us today for a free, no-obligation consultation.