Stay on Top of Attic Insulation
Are you experiencing any of the following:
- Discomforting hot and/or cold areas in your home
- Odd drafts, even when all the windows and doors are closed
- Frequent thermostat resetting due to constantly changing indoor temperatures
- High energy bills
Don’t place the blame on your HVAC system. If you have a relatively new and properly working heating and cooling system, the more likely culprit is inadequate insulation, particularly the insulation in your attic. Improper insulation in your attic makes heating and cooling your house inefficient, which not only makes it less comfortable in your home, but costs you money.
You may think that, well, doesn’t every house have attic insulation? While you may very well find insulation up in your attic, that doesn’t necessarily mean your attic is properly insulated.
In fact, according to the Insulation Institute, 90 percent of homes in the United States are under insulated. With proper attic insulation, not only can you save, according to writer Amanda Ringler, up to anywhere between 15 to 50 percent annually on your energy costs, you’ll be more comfortable in your home. Plus, your HVAC doesn’t have to work as hard and consequently lasts longer.
The top of your house should be top of mind when it comes to energy conservation. In this post we cover:
- What to look for to determine if you have adequate insulation
- The top benefits of attic insulation
- Why you should seal your attic
How Do I Know If I have Adequate Attic Insulation
You may think you have adequate insulation, particularly if your home is relatively new. But that doesn’t necessarily mean your attic insulation is doing the job it should. Attic insulation can be compromised by:
- Pest infestation
- Mold or mildew caused by a leaky roof
And, yes, even relatively new constructed homes can have these issues. According to a study conducted by Cornell University, few homes are optimally insulated.
Indeed, if you have an older house, particularly one built before 2006 and especially if you have cellulose insulation that is 20 years or more old, chances are pretty good you need to at least have your attic insulation inspected for probable replacement.
In either case, if you’re experiencing discomfort in your home and high energy bills, It’s time for an experienced technician to check out your attic insulation.
Top 7 Benefits of a Properly Insulated Attic
1. Save Money
James Rada, writing in PocketSense, notes that, “Since heat rises, one of the most likely places for it to escape your home is through the attic and roof. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, ‘More than 50 percent of the energy used in a typical American home is for space heating and cooling. Much of that conditioned air escapes through poorly sealed, under-insulated attics. Only 20 percent of homes built before 1980 are well insulated.’ You can save hundreds of dollars on your annual energy bill by properly insulating your attic.”
He goes on to point out that increasing insulation thickness by as little as two to three inches can save as much as $145 annually for every 1200 square feet of attic area, which translates up to 10 percent annual savings on your energy bill.
2. Stay More Comfortable
Heat rises, and that warmth is lost through your poor attic insulation. Insulation settles and shifts over the years, causing gaps in the material. So the problem isn’t just that heat is getting out, but outside cold air is getting in.
Similarly, when you are trying to keep your house cool during the summer, outside hot air penetrating through these gaps makes the cooling system work harder. Also, some parts of your house may not maintain the desired temperature because of these leaks. Outside air continuously penetrating indoors is a direct cause of uneven room temperatures.
Resetting the insulation and adding additional batting can sometimes correct leakage problems. However, in many cases, particularly for old attic insulation, replacement is required.
3. Increase the Useful Longevity of Your HVAC System
With a better-insulated attic, your HVAC system doesn’t have to work as hard trying to push conditioned air throughout your house while it escapes outside through leakage even as unconditioned outside air gets in. All this makes it difficult for your heating and cooling system to maintain even temperature and comfort levels.
With proper attic insulation both keeping conditioned air indoors and keeping out air from outside, your heating and cooling system cycles less, consequently extending product life cycle. Proper attic insulation works day in and day out effortlessly, so your heating and cooling system can work more efficiently with less effort.
4. Increase the Resale Value of Your Home
Installing proper attic insulation is a good investment not just because it can significantly reduce your energy bills, but it can also increase the resale value of your home. According to one realtor, you can recoup the cost of insulation by as much as 95 percent upon resale. According to Cost vs Value, at one time attic insulation ranked as the number one return on investment for home improvement. And Cost Estimates maintains that, “Adding attic insulation has the highest return on investment of any home improvement project, according to a respected annual building industry survey. The most recent data shows that attic insulation raises home sale prices by 107% of its cost.”
5. Improve Indoor Air Quality
Proper attic insulation and attic floor sealing improves Indoor Air Quality (IAQ). It acts as a barrier against pest droppings and nest materials as well as dust, mold, fumes from old fiberglass and other building materials that would otherwise contaminate your indoor air and possibly imperil your health. It also contributes to reducing outside pollen that leads to runny noses or headaches caused by allergies and other asthma triggers.
Ongaro and Sons offers a set of tips to help relieve your allergy suffering. Regular maintenance of your heating and cooling system, including changing air filters, is particularly important to making it easier for you to breathe at home.
6. Prevent Moisture Accumulation
Poorly insulated attics are more vulnerable to higher levels of moisture. This is particularly a problem if there is even a slight leak in the roof or walls. Particularly in colder climates, this can lead to ice dams, a ridge of ice that forms at the edge of a roof and prevents melting snow from draining off the roof. The water that backs up behind the dam can leak into a home and cause damage to walls, ceilings, insulation and other areas. Wet and damp areas of the home also lead to the growth of mold and mildew, which are triggers for asthma and allergy sufferers.
7. Make a Small Contribution to Climate Change
Lower energy consumption means more than just lower utility bills. It also means reduced energy consumption, which results in decreased emissions. This reduces your carbon footprint, and makes a contribution to reducing climate change. Admittedly, it’s a small contribution, but if every homeowner made sure their attics were properly insulated, it would add up to a significant contribution.
Proper Insulation and Sealing
While you may see insulation in the attic, it doesn’t necessarily mean you have the right kind of insulation. Insulation is rated by R-Value. It is a measure of insulation’s ability to resist heat traveling through it. The higher the R-Value, the better the thermal performance of the insulation. Which doesn’t necessarily mean you need to get the highest R-Value to get the most reduction in energy costs and increase in comfort, According to the Department of Energy, the proper level of R-value depends on the climate where you live. More temperate areas require lower R-Values.
Moreover, the job isn’t done just by installing insulation. To properly insulate, the attic floor and any areas where outside air could conceivably get in, as well as conditioned indoor air escape, must be sealed.
Proper air sealing is crucial for maximizing the performance of insulation. The R-Value of insulation is determined under the assumption of adequate air sealing around the insulation. Insulation left exposed to air movement can decrease the benefits of even the highest R-Value insulation.
Better Heating and Cooling with Ongaro and Sons
Inspecting and installing attic insulation may seem like a simple thing. But it isn’t, which is why so many homeowners suffer from high energy costs that are literally going up through their roofs.
Installing attic insulation, and installing it correctly, is part and parcel of an overall energy efficient heating and cooling. Call the heating and cooling specialists at Ongaro and Sons.
We are Trane Comfort Specialists certified in high-efficiency HVAC systems and indoor air quality. As we like to say, “Ongaro and Sons puts the V back into HVAC.” If you want a more comfortable and energy-efficient home, you’ll be comfortable working with Ongaro and Sons.