The Importance of Attic Insulation for Energy-Efficiency

March 18, 2011

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Attic insulation is one important way you can lower you energy bills and make your home more green. The attic is often one of the easiest places to add insulation to your home, making it a great place to start when making weatherizing changes for any season. Insulating your attic can help prevent air from escaping the house and stop outside air from coming in.

Why insulate your attic

Heating and cooling costs account for up to 50-70 percent of the energy used in an average home. This means that losing your home’s hot or cold air makes for a huge energy waste. Taking steps to prevent this loss is very important when thinking of ways to make your home more green. Any area where you can prevent wasting energy is always an important area to focus on.

Adding insulation to your attic helps reduce your energy costs by lowering the amount of energy you need to keep you home at a comfortable level. Because any changes in your home’s temperature must be fought against by your heating and air conditioning units, leaving spaces where drastic changes can happen makes your home vulnerable to higher energy usage and costs.

How insulation works

Air naturally flows from a warm area to a cold one. During the winter months, warm air in your home tries to escape to the cooler air outside, and during the summer months warm air outside tries to make it’s way inside to the cooler air in your home. Outlying rooms such as attics, basements, and garages are all places where this air change can happen the most easily. From there, the air begins to make its way into the rest of the home.

Insulation works by limiting air movement within the home. The still air trapped in the insulation works to help prevent the heat from escaping from one place to the next. Insulation is rated in terms of thermal resistance, called R-value, which tells you how resistant to heat flow it is. The higher the R-value of the insulation the better able it is to prevent hot air from moving from one place to another.

Types of insulation for attics

There are many types of insulation that you can install in your attic to help prevent this transfer of hot air. Each type has it’s own benefits and issues that need to be weighed before choosing an insulation type.

  • Batts and rolls are flexible fiber sheets that lay within the standard spacingsd in wall studs and floor joints.l These can be cut to fit into uneven spaces and to allow wires or pipes to fit through. They can be purchased with flame resistant chemicals for areas where the insulation will be exposed in the home.
  • Blown-in loose fill is an insulation made of loose fibers or fiber pellets that are blown in using special equipment. This is good for unfinished floors that many attics have as it fill fill in many gaps and spaces easily.
  • Foam insulation is a special foam that is sprayed into walls. Professionals mix the foam and spray it into cavities using special equipment.

Photo credit: ToddonFlickr