Attic Insulation Plays a Large Part in Whole-House Comfort and Efficiency
You may rarely give your attic insulation much thought, but this material is one of your first lines of defense against the heat of a sultry Macon area summer. When the weather turns cool, attic insulation continues to help, holding in the warmth from your furnace or heat pump. By getting your attic insulation up to par, you’ll save money and enjoy greater comfort.
What Good Attic Insulation Can Do for You
Your roof and attic can account for around 25 percent of your home’s heat gain in summer and heat loss in winter. When outside temperatures are in the 90s, the temperatures in your attic can reach up to 150 degrees.
Without enough insulation on the floor of your attic, that heat will flow right into your air-conditioned living space, increasing the cooling load on your air conditioner and leaving you with higher air conditioning bills. Simply by laying insulation, you can hold the heat back so it can be removed by your attic ventilation.
Because heat naturally moves toward cooler spaces, in winter, a cold, uninsulated attic saps heat from your home. Improving the insulation helps you stay warmer, reducing the load on your furnace or heat pump and keeping your heating bills down.
To make matters worse, warm air entering a cold attic can cause condensation. The combination of warmth and moisture creates the perfect conditions for attic mold, which can damage the wood structure of your roof.
Choose Your Insulation Carefully
If you’re ready to boost attic insulation and your home’s energy efficiency, you have several forms of insulation to choose from.
Batt insulation – This insulation comes in rolled-up sheets cut in widths that fit between the attic rafters. Because they’re simply laid into place, batts are a good choice for a DIY insulating job.
Loose-fill insulation – This insulation is made of small chunks of insulating material such as fiberglass or cellulose. It’s also known as blown-in insulation because it must be blown into place using a special machine. The small pieces fill in crevices more completely than batt insulation.
Rigid foam – These hard sheets of polyurethane or other foam can be fit between the attic rafters just as batts can be. High R-values and durability are their main benefits.
If you go with batts or loose-fill insulation, the next step is to choose your preferred material. Fiberglass is often the most affordable option, but because its fibers can harm your skin, eyes, and lungs, you’ll need to wear protective gear while installing it.
Cellulose insulation, which is typically made from recycled newspaper, won’t irritate your skin or airways, so it’s safer to work with. It also offers higher R-values than fiberglass.
Mineral wool, which is made from compressed minerals, offers high R-values and a high level of natural fire-resistance.
Add Barriers to Protect Your Safety
Insulation should be kept clear of any objects in your attic that become hot enough to pose a fire hazard. Recessed lights are a good example. Whether you choose batts or loose-fill attic insulation, install barriers around these lights to prevent the insulation from coming too near them.
In theory, IC-rated recessed lights don’t pose as much of a fire risk, but they should still be protected with a barrier. If the insulation falls too close to the light, the area can overheat due to high humidity levels and the natural flow of warm air.
You can make your own barrier boxes out of foil-faced foam board, aluminum flashing or similar materials. The barrier should be large enough that the inside walls are at least 13 inches from the light. The pre-made light covers available at home-improvement stores are another option.
When to Call a Professional
If your attic is in good condition and you only need a little extra insulation, the project is easy to do yourself. There are times, however, when you’ll want to at least consult a professional.
One of those times is when your attic has repair issues such as leaks, wet or rotting insulation, mold growth, or rotting wood. Attics that are hard to access or work in, or that contain appliance vents that exhaust damp air are also best left to a pro. If you find your attic has little to no ventilation, talk with a professional about adding some before you insulate.
If you could use some pro help choosing and installing attic insulation, please contact us at Wilson Bryant Air Conditioning anywhere around Macon, Gray, Greensboro and Warner Robins.