Get The Right Attic Insulation For Your Climate
A well-insulated attic is one of the best ways to keep your home cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter – and to reduce your overall energy costs as well. Because warm air rises, the top of your house is a key area for heat transfer between the inside and outside of the building.
But there are a lot of types of insulation out there as well as a lot of different climates you might be living in. In order to make sure your home is properly insulated, it's important to know a little about insulation to figure out what amount you need.
How Is Insulation Measured?
While you can look at insulation and see how thick it is, there's more to measuring insulation than thickness – and that's where R-value comes in. This number measures how well insulation blocks the movement of heat, holding it in during the winter and keeping it out in the summer.
Some insulations are measured in R-value per inch because you can decide how thickly you want to apply it, like loose-fill fibers or foams; others, like insulation that comes on rolls in standard thicknesses, will have an R-value for the thickness it comes in.
How Do I Know How Much Insulation I Need?
A house in northern Minnesota and one on the Rio Grande are dealing with very different temperatures during the year – not to mention the difference between Alaska and Puerto Rico! Luckily, the U.S. Department of Energy has put together recommendations for R-value based on region and type of home heating. By visiting their recommendation calculator, you can get guidance on the right R-value of insulation for each part of your home.
What's Important For Attic Insulation Beyond R-Value?
Having the proper R-value of insulation in your attic is crucial, but there are a few other things to keep in mind when installing or checking attic insulation. Because hot air rises, in cold weather it's possible for you to end up with a warm attic and a cold house if you have air leaks in your house.
In order to find air leaks in your attic, check the most common areas first: dropped-ceiling or slanted ceiling areas, around knee walls, and where the walls and floor meet. Dirty insulation in any of these areas is a sign that air is leaking through the insulation; under that dirty insulation, there are probably gaps or cavities that will need to be filled.
A Key Reminder For Older Homes
If you are checking the insulation of an older home and your insulation is a loose, flaky gray material, you may have vermiculite insulation. Older vermiculite insulation may contain asbestos, which is a health hazard if inhaled, so don't disturb the vermiculite; instead, call in a professional contractor, like Discount Energy Services, or contact your local health department so the insulation can be dealt with safely.