Stop! Read This Before You Insulate Your Attic This Winter

Saving Money with Attic Insulation

Notice how keeping warm seems to get more expensive every winter? Dialing down your thermostat or wearing more layers is a good start, but it just isn’t enough sometimes. The simplest way to cut down on your energy bill is to insulate your attic. It’s a small project you can finish in one weekend and it will save a lot of money in the long run. Insulating your attic can cut down on your energy bill by up to 50%. 

We’ve rounded up the important things you need to know before you insulate your attic.

Types of Insulations

There are 3 main types of attic insulations. Each insulation type has their own R-value (how effective they are). We will be covering each of them below with their advantages, R-value and cost.

Loose Fill

As the name implies, these are bags of insulation fibers that you blow in your attic. For this type of insulation, it’s best to rent special equipment to spread the insulation for best results. You can place it manually but it won’t be nearly as good as the equipment. Plus, that takes longer and is labor-intensive. 

Loose fill insulation is best for DIY-ers since this is fairly easy to install over the course of a weekend. You can use this to place on top of existing insulation since it can fill out the joints and spaces. It’s also good for irregularly shaped attics since this can fill in gaps easily. 

For loose fill insulation there are 3 types to choose from. We’ll list them below with the advantages.

Cellulose

The most common loose fill insulation. It does a great job at insulating your attic, but it rots and molds easily if exposed to moisture. This has an R-value of 3.2 – 3.8.

Fiberglass 

More lightweight and doesn’t rot like cellulose insulation.  However, you need to put in more to get the insulation you need. This is more fire resistant than cellulose insulation. This has an R-value of 2.2 – 2.7.

Mineral wool

Made from natural rock fibers and naturally fire resistant. This costs more than other other loose fill insulations though. It has an R-value of 3.0 – 3.3.

Most loose fill insulation costs around $600 depending on the size of your attic.

Blanket Insulation

Blanket Insulation or “batts” as it is called comes in rolls with various thickness and materials. They work best for homes with regularly shaped attics since you only need to cut the batts. You can add more layers to achieve the desired insulation level. This is also suitable for DIYers as this is also easy to install.

For batt insulation there are 4 types to choose from. We’ll list them below with the advantages.

Fiberglass 

The most common batt insulation around. It’s cheap but it can cause irritation to your skin or lungs and it’s less effective. This has an R-value of 2.9 – 4.3.

Cellulose

This won’t irritate your lungs or skin but few manufacturers make these. As with cellulose loose fill insulation, this rots and molds easily. It has an R-value of 3.7 – 3.8.

Mineral wool

Made from natural rock fibers and naturally fire resistant. Just like loose fill, it costs more than other batt insulation. This has an R-value of 3.0 – 3.3.

Cotton

This blocks airflow and sound transmission the best, but this is the most expensive batt insulation choice. It has an R-value of 3.7 – 3.8.

Blanket insulation costs around $250 depending on the size of your attic. It may cost more if you have to regularly cut the insulation to fit it into irregular spaces.

Spray Foam Insulation

The most expensive of the 3 insulation types and also the best insulation type. This is best used for newly constructed homes for easy installation. This type of insulation however is not for DIYers as it would require professional handling of the materials. You may find these spray foam kits at your local hardware, but it’s best to leave at the hands of professionals. Spray foam insulation would initially set you back $2500 but it will pay you back in terms of savings on your energy bill. Spray foam insulation typically has an R-value of 5 – 6.

Steps To Prepare

If you want to install your insulation yourself you have to follow these steps to ensure that your installation goes smoothly. 

  1. Seal Air Leaks – The first step is to seal all air leaks in your ceiling and attic. If you have any leaks that allow warm air to escape your home, it’s going to make your insulation useless. You can use canned spray foam to seal in those nooks and crevices to prevent air from escaping.
  2. Fix Roof Leaks – The number one enemy of insulation is water. Damp environments breed mold that can damage your insulation. 
  3. Cover light fixtures – Insulation must never touch any type of electrical wiring unless it is rated safe for any insulation. Wiring that touches insulation is a potential fire hazard.
  4. Wear Protection – Wear goggles, gloves, masks and long sleeved shirts and pants to protect your lungs, eyes and skin from the insulation fibers. 
  5. Use Proper Lighting – Use proper lighting, like clip-on flashlights or lanterns to help you install your insulation in the dark.

Installation Tips

We’ve listed some handy installation tips that you can use to perfectly install your insulation.

  1. Work from the sides of your attic towards your attic hatch so you don’t step on your insulation.
  2. Shower after you install your insulation to remove loose fibers and launder your clothes immediately after 1 use.
  3. For loose fill insulation – make sure the depth of the insulation is spread evenly. Always get more than you think you’ve calculated. It’s better to have extra if you have gone short, so you don’t need to go to the store to buy more. You can add it to the existing insulation anyway.
  4. For batt insulation – place your layer of batts perpendicular to the old layer to prevent any spaces in the lower layer. Never place heavier batts (cotton, mineral) over lighter ones (fiberglass)
  5. Place insulation over your attic hatch to prevent the air from escaping there.

Conclusion

This is really most of what you need to know before installing insulation in your attic. If you’re thinking of converting your attic into a living or storage space someday however, you just have to hire the professionals to have your attic insulated with spray foam. It provides the best R-value and the bang for your buck. You will need less space for the insulation ensuring that you can use your attic as storage or an additional room in the future.

Published by morConnect

morConnect is the leading HVAC and Smart Home Provider in Ontario.

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