Attics are among the most ignored spaces in homes when it comes to home insulation and energy cost concerns. I know this for a fact because I have been in the home insulation industry for more than 25 years. If you are serious about saving on your energy bills, I will recommend that you start with your attic. In this post I will elaborate the most important areas in the attic that need proper insulation, the reasons why attics are so important from the perspective of energy cost savings, and the type of insulation you can consider.
Most Important Attic Areas
- If you have unfinished attic spaces, I will recommend insulating over and between the floor joists and the access door.
- If you have finished attic spaces, you should be insulating between the studs of the knee walls.
It is important to seal all the air leakage sites (it is not you who should be doing this. Home insulation is a task best left to the professionals). This will help improve indoor comfort, efficiency and air quality.
Why are Attics so Important to your Home Energy Calculations?
The attic is the hottest part of your home during the summer and the coldest during the winter. So if you don’t insulate it to the minimum recommended R-value, you will be spending a significant percentage of your energy bills in keeping heat from escaping or getting through the attic.
I have seen that even new homes have R-value as low as 30-32, while the recommended standard by the government is R50. Therefore, it is important that you get your attic checked by the experts and have it insulated properly.
Types of Materials for Attic Upgrade
The following are the commonly used insulation materials for attic upgrades. It will be the home insulation expert who will be considering the right choice of material, you should know about the benefits and drawbacks of batts, blown insulation and spray insulation before you allow them to go ahead.
Batts are large pieces of insulation made from fibres held together with adhesive binders. They can be made of cotton or fibreglass, but both have almost equivalent insulating power. Interestingly, cotton batts are mostly made from recycled jeans.
When it comes to insulating your home, keep in mind that it is most important that the material fills up the entire space. Batts don’t do that as efficiently as other options because they leave certain gaps. Besides, batts are designed to be flexible and to adjust to the different elements in the attics and walls. They cannot leave proper space for electrical junctions, wiring, and frames.
Blown insulation, as the name suggests, involves blowing “chunks” of insulation material into the attic. Again there is a choice of materials – fibreglass or cellulose. Both the materials have almost similar R-value. While fibreglass is sourced from sand, cellulose is made from recycled newspaper. This is a better choice of material for your attic upgraded rather than using the age-old batts.
There are two types of spray foams, based on their structure, – Closed Cell and Open Cell spray foams. It is a recommended form of insulation because it allows moving the building envelope. Now the building envelope is nothing else but the space between the attic’s floor and the roof line. It is actually the space between conditioned and unconditioned space.
Many homeowners have placed their air-conditioning system and ducts in the attic (although this is not a smart decision). Spray foaming can help move the building envelope to the roofline. This will help bring the entire heating/cooling systems, including the ducts, within the envelope.
So these are the most commonly used attic insulation materials. Whether you have an old house or a newly constructed building, having this slightest amount of knowledge can help you guide your home insulation specialist to put the right insulation in place.
The Author has been in the Home insulation in Calgary for more than 25 years. After having serviced thousands of clients throughout his career, he has moved onto consultative roles. He frequently shares his knowledge and valuable tips with his readers by writing and posting articles.