The topic of attic insulation is a regional one. Insulation isn’t exactly a ‘one size fits all’ application. It all depends on the climate. What may be adequate attic insulation in Chicago, could be overkill for a home in San Diego.
Most of the insulation advice circulating on the internet, even down to DIY insulation installation guides, is geared towards cold-weather climates. But what about the folks in the balmier parts of the country, don’t they matter too? We put together an easy guide with some general knowledge about attic insulation to catch you up to speed before you meet with your insulation contractor.
In order to truly insulate your attic properly, you will likely need the help of an attic insulation contractor and possibly schedule an energy audit in some cases. Even still, it is helpful to educate yourself so that when the time comes to get quotes from insulation companies you have your wits about you.
Why Do I Need to Insulate My Attic?
Insulation is a layer of materials that are fitted and fastened in between the interior and exterior of a structure’s walls, ceiling, and floors to help moderate the temperature inside. Attic insulation is particularly important because the majority of hot and cool air enters and exits through the roof and ceiling. Properly installed attic insulation helps to minimize the impact that outside temperature fluctuations have on the interior of the home, keeping it cool in the summers and warm in the winters.
The sun can be a brutal foe during the summer months. In the Southwest, where temperatures can exceed 120 degrees, your attic can easily turn into an oven. So having your attic adequately insulated can protect the inside of your home from feeling the brunt of those record highs come summertime.
For homes that are in warmer parts of the country, you’ll want to pay added attention to the underside of the roof, not just the floor of the attic. This will add an extra layer of protection and help keep the heat regulated inside the attic. Another perk you’ll see during the summer months is a drop in your utility bill because your air conditioning unit won’t be working overtime.
Here are several benefits of installing attic insulation in your home:
- Keeps your home cool in the hotter months and warm in the winter
- Saves you money on your utility bill
- Provides a buffer between you and the elements year-round
- Reduces energy consumption
- Reduces greenhouse gases
- Limits the strain on your HVAC system
- Can double as soundproofing
How Much Insulation Does My Attic Need?
Any professional attic insulation contractor will want to see your existing insulation before determining how much you need, or if the old insulation needs to be replaced. If a contractor quotes you a price without even taking a look at your attic, it may be best to search for another insulation specialist to get a thorough assessment.
On average, most homes need up to 19 inches of fiberglass insulation for optimal efficiency. However, there are a variety of factors that come into play that determine how much insulation you need in your attic:
Location / Region: Different climates call for varying insulation R-values. The R-value is a way to measure how well insulation materials can resist heat. The higher the R-value, the better the insulation will perform in severe temperatures. This isn’t something that you guess at either. Your insulation contractor will know how to calculate the right R-value for your attic’s insulation in regards to what part of the country you live in.
The Age of Your Home & Existing Insulation: If you live in an older home, more than 10-15 years old, you’ll likely need additional insulation installed in your attic. Fiberglass and wool insulation can be retrofitted to update your home and make it more energy-efficient.
Types of Attic Insulation for Warmer Climates
There are a wide variety of insulations on the market today, but homes in the Southwest and Southeast have slightly different needs than their Northern neighbors. Here are some types of attic insulation that are ideal for warmer climates.
- Spray Foam Insulation – You’ve probably seen spray foam insulation before. It expands when it is being applied to attics and inside walls. This is the best kind of insulation for hot climate attics due to its higher R-value. It is also ideal because it is easily installed, and by its own composition, fills in every nook and crack it is sprayed in. Spray foam insulation effectively seals air leaks as well.
- Loose Fill Insulation – This kind of insulation is a great choice for attics and walls as well. Loose fill insulation is an excellent option for retrofitting older homes that have sagging or minimal insulation. Loose fill is blown into attics with a huge machine and should be installed by a professional with the proper equipment.
- Reflective Insulation – Ideal for warmer weather homes, reflective insulation is made of aluminum foil that is adhered to a plastic or paper base. Reflective insulation can be coupled with bulk insulation to get the best results.
- Radiant Barrier – Radiant barrier insulation acts to reflect heat and energy making it a popular choice for hotter climates. It should be installed in conjunction with other insulations and used as a second layer of defense in attics. Radiant barrier insulation also effectively keeps HVAC ducting from overheating.
- Rolled Batt Insulation – This is the most commonly used insulation on the market today. Rolled batt insulation comes in both yellow and pink rolled palettes and can be installed DIY style between rafters and wall studs. It can be stapled down in sections and is great when you’re on a budget.
Whether you’re going to the do-it-yourself route or plan on contacting an attic insulation contractor, remember to do your research and thoroughly review any and all materials before installing them in your attic. Take into consideration the climate in which you live and plan accordingly.
Absolute Airflow provides superior attic insulation services to customers throughout Southern California. We also specialize in HVAC repair, service and maintenance. Call us today to find out about our attic insulation services: 888.306.6181