Attic insulation

Continuing the topic for this month of attics...

Often when we think of saving energy we immediately go to reducing heating and cooling bills. This is a natural place to start since it is one on the largest segements of our energy use "pie chart!"

However many of us don't consider a basically free DIY project we can do on a cool evening. (As mentioned before mid-day is no time to be in your attic because of heat!) Also, a dust mask is a must when entering the attic area. Insulation fibers can be very irritating to your respiratory system!

Go into your attic spaces in the evening with a good flashlight and a small tape measure. If you have "pink" or yellow insulation it is most likely fiberglass. There are two types of fiberglass techniques: batts/blankets or loose fill. It will be very obvious which you have...batts/or blankets will look like woven or solid squares of material between the joists. Loose fill will be just that...loose fibers blown or spread around the area. 

There are other types of loose fill insulation; cellulose, rock wool...but the concept is similar to fiberglass installation although the R-values vary by material and installation type. We'll talk about that shortly...

There are two easy ways to improve the performance of your insulation without spending ANY money on additional insulation. First, if you have loose insulation check that the insulation levels are consistent around your attic. Often you'll find very high areas of fibers and then areas which have little or no insulation. This negatively impacts the performance of the insulation. Simply take measurements to see if this is an issue for your attic. IF it is take a yard stick or small rake and spread the fibers around trying to get a consistent level throughout your attic. This will greatly improve the performance of your insulation and keep conditioned air inside your house and not your attic!

Now let's talk batts...this is similar, but a little more difficult. Carefully check around the attic and see if there are boxes or items compressing the insulation. Make sure items are stored on boards or even better a floored area in the attic. If items have compressed the batts remove the items and gently lift and fluff the insulation giving it the air spaces within the insulation that aids it's insulation value.

Another thing to look for are gaps between batts and the joists as well as gaps from batt to batt. If you have these gaps carefully move the batts around to fill those empty spaces. You may find you need to add batts to fill up all these gaps.  These gaps will allow conditioned air to escape or outside infiltration into the house.

Insulations are rated by an "R-value" which is  a measure of thermal resistance of a building material. In our geographic area the suggested attic insulation is AT Minimum R-38 for new construction. Most homes built over 10 years ago will not meet this recommendation, but we'll hit those topics in another blog! Thanks for taking the time to improve the efficiency of your home! It will save you money and help reduce energy waste in our country.

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