Generally, the more insulation your house has the more money you will save. You save during both the air conditioning and heating seasons.
60 million homes in the U.S. are estimated to be under insulated. By heading straight to the attic and adding insulation, homeowners can make their homes greener and save money.
Adding more insulation is the single most cost-effective way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
In the heating season, insulation reduces both your electric bill and your fuel bill. If you have an all-electric home, your really need the maximum recommended amount of insulation just to keep the electric bill smaller than your mortgage payment.
The flow of heat is slowed down by insulation. That reduces the amount of heat needed per month from your fuel. It also cuts the electric bill by reducing the running time on your furnace blower or hot water circulation pump.
Spring and fall are the best times of the year to do the work when it is not too hot or too cold. As the seasons change, your work will start paying off immediately. You can plan the job and learn exactly what to do any time of year.
Remember, you get no benefit until the job is done.
Before you poke your head up into the attic, you will need some tools; a flashlight, a flash camera, a ruler or tape measure, and a zip lock sandwich bag.
Do not climb into the attic unless you know how to avoid putting your foot through the ceiling.
Your first step should be to look into the attic and answer three questions.
What kind of insulation is there now, take a sample to go in a zip-lock evidence bag.
Where is the vapor barrier located? Look for paper or plastic film. Is it beneath the insulation or on top? Is it missing? If it is there put a small sample in your evidence bag.
Make a note of how deep the insulation is. Notice if it is fluffed up or packed down.
While you are collecting evidence, take a couple of flash camera photos. Shoot one that shows the end wall of the attic. Shoot another one that shows the area at the eaves where the slope of the roof meets the side walls of the house. Finish the film if you have an old style camera like me.
Take a good look at the attic and decide if you are going to tackle this job yourself or hire a pro.
When you have your photos and evidence ready it is time to go talk with the friendly folks at your local building supply store. They will enjoy talking with someone who is as prepared as you are. Their recommendations will help you select the type of insulation. The big question is to decide about a vapor retarder. This is the reason that I am avoiding giving specific advice. The need for a vapor retarder and where it should go question needs to be decided on a case-by-case basis. Take your time and get good advice on this item.
Most likely, there is a vapor retarder beneath the existing insulation. If it is there, all you need to do is add insulation that has no paper face on it.
If there is less than 6 inches of insulation now you may have to add two layers. The first lays is to fill the space between the joists. The second layer is to build depth running the other direction across the joists.
The recommendation is an attic should have between 16 and 22 inches of insulation with a minimum total R-value of 49. To learn more about R-value and reducing home energy consumption go to the Owens Corning site with this link.
The labor needed to install insulation is about the same regardless of the thickness you are adding. I recommend that you add the thickest blanket of pink fiberglass insulation that you can.
That means add the 9-1/2 inch thick R-30 pink fiberglass insulation to what ever is already there. If you have 6 inches, add 9-1/2 inches running across the joists. If you already have 8 inches, add 9-1/2 inches. You get the idea. That may take the total to more than the minimum recommended R-49. When the price of fuel doubles, you will not have to climb back into the attic and do it again.
Remember the benefit is worth the hassle. For most of us adding insulation to what is already in the attic will cut the amount, we pay on the fuel bill and on the electric bill by a large percentage.
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