While most homes have some insulation, have you ever thought about whether or not your home has enough insulation? It adds an important layer of protection between you and the daily changes in conditions outdoors. Without plenty of insulation, you could be missing out on energy savings or a better sense of comfort. Adding new insulation can be a great investment, particularly when you know where it will have the biggest impact.
For a lot of homes, that includes their attic. Unfinished attics in particular can be much colder than the rest of your home, even though heat rises. It can silently escape via small cracks or other flaws. Adding more attic insulation to your attic can help your home trap more heating and cooling, and help you save more money as a result. But how much insulation do you need in your attic?
You’ll need to head up to the attic to learn how much insulation is already in place. Measuring is an easy process and can be handled with a measuring tape. Simply measure the depth of the existing insulation against the closest joists. A good rule of thumb is that the insulation should measure several inches past the joists, but ultimately you’ll need the measurement itself.
Your local climate impacts how much insulation is considered adequate. Cooler climates require a few more inches of insulation compared to climates further south. This extra insulation helps protect against the bitter cold and longer winters more common in the northern part of the country.
While a strong layer of insulation is beneficial, the overall efficiency is also affected by the materials used. Some materials are more insulating than others, making them better at reducing heat loss. This resistance to heat flow is known as the R-Value.
Even if your insulation stretches past the floor joists, a weak R-Value means it’s not trapping as much heat as you might hope. Cooler climates typically want an R-Value of 38 or higher, which roughly translates to 12-14 inches of insulation. You may need more or less depending on the material used for insulation.
There are different materials used to manufacture home insulation. Each of these materials has a different R-Value, and you’ll want to know them before deciding one insulator is better than another. We’ll review the 4 most common types and what their R-Values can range between. Don’t forget that the climate affects what R-Value is considered as enough insulation for your attic.
Fiberglass insulation can be found in both loose fibers as well as standardized batts. Between these two types of fiberglass insulation, you’ll find an R-Value of 2.2 to 3.8 per inch.
Shredded denim or paper fibers from old newspapers forms the bulk of cellulose-based insulation. It’s one of the oldest types of insulation and can offer an R-Value between 3.1 to 3.8 per inch.
Even rocks and minerals can be shredded into soft insulation for your attic. Mineral wool, also called stone wool, is made from minerals like basalt. It can also be made from industrial slag or even glass. Mineral wool insulation offers a range of R-Values from 2.2 to 4.2 per inch.
Instead of rolls or batts, spray foam insulation is sprayed directly onto the surface for insulation. This foam is made from numerous composite materials and conforms to the shape around it. Spray foam insulation can offer some of the highest R-Values, averaging 3.5 to 8 per inch.
While it seems correct to assume that more insulation means higher energy efficiency, there’s such a thing as too much insulation. Excessive insulation can spur mold growth and trap other airborne particles between the fibers. Unless you’re experienced with evaluating and installing home insulation, it’s best to leave the job to a pro.
Professional installation ensures an even distribution throughout your attic, from the center of the floor to the spots closest to the roof. This consistent seal will give your home the best layer of protection. If you’re considering installing more attic insulation in the U.S., look for technicians that can evaluate your existing insulation. They’ll be able to justify why your home needs however many additional inches of insulation.
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