Adding insulation to your attic helps keep your home warmer in winter and cooler in summer. It also saves you money on your heating and cooling bills – it’s a win-win! In fact, if your attic and walls were not insulated at all, you could lose up to 60% of your home’s energy.
But when it comes to choosing the right type of attic insulation, how do you know what is best for your home? The experts at Ambient Edge have some advice about the best insulation for an attic.
Why Fiberglass Batt Is the Best Attic Insulation Material
Fiberglass batt is considered to be the best insulation for attics. Compared to other insulation materials, it is the cheapest and easiest to install. Fiberglass batt is also incredibly energy efficient, as it helps to slow the spread of hot and cold air. That means it will keep your house cool in the summer, and warm during the winter months.
Fiberglass batt insulation also improves the air quality of your home by preventing unwanted pollutants from entering. It comes in mold and mildew-resistant forms, so you don’t have to worry about mold growing in your attic.
If you’re concerned about having a positive impact on the environment, fiberglass batt is probably the best insulation option for your attic. That’s because it’s made of recycled sand and glass. Its composition also makes it light-weight and flame-resistant.
If you need to insulate a wide-open area in your attic, you might want to choose fiberglass rolls. Fiberglass rolls contain the same insulation material as fiberglass batts, but they come in longer segments that you can roll out.
Though fiberglass batts are usually sold in packages with greater square footage than rolls, rolls are easier to transport and cut into desired lengths. Using rolls also decreases the likelihood of gaps in your insulation.
Downsides of Fiberglass Batt Insulation
Though fiberglass batt insulation is the most common attic insulation used today, it does have a few drawbacks to consider. Compared to some of the other materials used for attic insulation, it is not as effective at retaining heat.
Fiberglass can also cause irritation to the skin and lungs. In addition, it isn’t the best insulation for preventing insect and pest infestation. If you’re concerned with the downsides of fiberglass batt insulation, you might want to consider some of the other insulation materials that are available.
Best Attic Insulation Alternatives to Fiberglass Batt
If you’ve decided that fiberglass batt isn’t the best attic insulation for you, you might want to think about using a different material. Some alternative insulators to consider are cellulose, mineral wool, and cotton.
When deciding which material will provide the best home insulation for your attic, it helps to know the R-value of the material. The R-value is a measure of how well any particular type of insulation can keep heat inside your home.
The recommended R-value for your attic insulation depends on the specifics of your home, the climate you’re located in, the amount of sunlight your house receives, and a few other factors.
You’ll also want to consider whether you want your insulation installed in batts or loose-fill. Batt insulation comes in rolls or blankets that are cut to fit the dimensions of your attic. Loose-fill insulation is installed by blowing fibers into place with a machine.
Now that you know a little more about insulation in general, let’s learn about the pros and cons of each insulator so that you can make an informed decision about which insulation material is best for your attic.
Cellulose is made of recycled paper and has an R-value of 3.2 to 3.7 per inch. Because it consists of paper it is considered an eco-friendly insulator, but also feared to be a potential fire-hazard.
If you decide that cellulose is the best insulation material for your attic, but you are concerned about it catching fire, make sure to purchase it from a manufacturer that adds ammonium sulfate or borate. These additives will make your insulation fire-resistant.
Since cellulose is denser than fiberglass, it has the potential to provide better heat retention in the cold months and increased cool air retention in the summer. Here are some additional pros and cons to help you decide if cellulose is the best insulation material for your attic:
- The most effective loose-fill insulation
- Prevents insect infestation
- Less harmful than fiberglass
- More expensive than other insulation materials
- May grow mold and rot if exposed to water
Like fiberglass insulation, mineral wool is a fiber insulation, but instead of glass it is composed of natural materials. It has an R-value of 3.1 to 4.0 per inch when blown in, and 3.1 to 3.4 per inch when installed in batts.
If you’re worried about mold and mildew growing in your home, mineral wool might be the best insulation material for your attic. That’s because it is naturally resistant to moisture, and even if it does get wet it will still function as an excellent insulator.
Mineral wool insulation might be a good choice for you if you have noisy neighbors or live near a major roadway with a lot of sound pollution. Mineral wool blocks sound more effectively than any other insulator. Here are some additional advantages and disadvantages of mineral wool to help you decide if it’s the best insulation for your attic:
- More effective than fiberglass insulation
- Naturally fire resistant
- Typically composed of 75% recycled materials
- Protective gear must be worn during installation as it can cause lung disease if inhaled
- Can compress and leave gaps as it ages
- Hard to dry if it becomes wet
- More expensive than other materials
Cotton has an R-value of 3.0 to 4.0 per inch. Since cotton insulation is made of recycled material, it’s a good choice if you want to limit your impact on the environment. However, it is a less effective insulator than fiberglass.
To increase the R-value of your cotton insulation, it’s recommended that you increase its thickness by adding extra layers. Here are some more pros and cons of cotton insulation so that you can decide if it’s the best insulation option for your attic:
- Highly effective insulator
- Poses no health risk to skin or lungs
- Environmentally friendly as it is made from recycled denim
- Can absorb moisture from the air and make your home damp
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Best Insulation Material for Attic Air Leaks
Even the best attic insulation can be rendered useless if there are air leaks present. Gaps around your attic windows and between the attic and the lower floor of your house can allow air to escape. Luckily, spray foam insulation is an easy-to-use fix for any air leak in your attic.
All you have to do is pick up a can of minimally-expanding spray foam from your local home center and spray the gaps where air is leaking out. Spray foam can add extra insulation to areas that are already insulated, and it’s convenient for irregularly shaped areas and attics with many obstructions.
How Much the Best Attic Insulation Costs
If you’re in need of new insulation for your attic, you’re probably wondering how much it will cost. Attic insulation expenses vary depending on the size of your attic, the type of material you choose, and how many inches of insulation you require.
On average, insulation costs between $1 and $7 per square foot. A recent Forbes Advisor article reported the average insulation cost for homeowners can range between $1,500 and $3,500.
Saving Money on the Insulation That’s Best for Your Attic
Depending on the state you are located in, you may be eligible for rebates or discounts for your energy efficient insulation. Contact your state’s energy office to find out if financial incentives are available to you.
You can also knock a few bucks off your insulation bill by knowing exactly how much insulation your attic needs. Having too much insulation can be costly and affect your home’s air circulation. Installing too much insulation can be costly and a waste of time, because at a certain point adding more insulation won’t improve air retention any further.
Prepare Your Attic Before Installing Insulation
Once you’ve figured out which attic insulation is best for you, there are several steps you can take to ensure your insulation works as efficiently as possible. Here are some of the things you can do to get the most out of your new attic insulation.
Fix Roof Leaks
Roof leaks can cause havoc on your newly installed insulation. Insulation can absorb water from leaks and grow mold and mildew. Look for stains and damp moldy spots on your roof to see where it might be leaking and address the problem before installing your new attic insulation.
Box Out Light Fixtures
Cover any light fixtures that are placed near your installation area. If your insulation touches a light it can become a fire hazard. Unless your light fixtures are rated safe for contact with insulation, make sure to cover them in plywood, metal, or hardware cloth.
Redirect Exhaust Fans
Make sure to direct all exhaust fans to the exterior of your home. Despite the building regulations that prevent home builders from venting exhaust into an attic space, many homes have vents directed into the attic. Correct this, as it can cause humid air to ruin your insulation.
Best Attic Insulation Safety Precautions
There are many potential safety hazards you can face when installing insulation in your attic. That’s why it’s important to know the dangers associated with your insulation material of choice and to take the proper precautions.
If your home was built before 1970, it may currently have asbestos insulation. If so, this should not be disturbed. You may be able to safely add new insulation to the current asbestos-based insulation. However, if your asbestos insulation is damaged or disturbed it may require professional remediation to keep you and your home safe.
Even if your home is asbestos-free, there are still many dangers involved with installing attic insulation. Here are a few safety measures you can take to avoid injury:
- Protect your lungs, skin, and eyes from dangerous fibers by wearing a long-sleeve shirt, gloves, goggles, and a dust mask.
- Illuminate and dark corners in the area where you are working.
- Standing on joists can be dangerous. If you lose your balance and fall you could break through the ceiling. Use sturdy plywood boards to stand on as you work.
Benefits of Installing the Insulation That’s Best for Your Attic
Installing the insulation that’s best for your attic can make a positive difference in many ways. Let’s go over some of the major benefits of proper attic insulation.
Improved Air Quality
Depending on your location, there may be a multitude of pollutants that linger in the air outside your home. Without insulation, pollutants like mold, dirt, smoke, and radon can enter your home. Proper insulation can prevent these particles from entering, and protect you and your family from major respiratory issues.
Stable Room Temperatures
Insufficient or a lack of insulation in your attic can cause unwanted fluctuations in temperature in almost every room of your home. If your attic is improperly insulated you may notice that your upstairs rooms are warmer than your downstairs rooms, or that your bedroom is warmer than your living room.
Thoroughly insulating your attic will prevent temperature fluctuations and undesirable living conditions in your home.
Turns Your Attic Into a Usable Space
If your attic lacks effective insulation, it’s probably too cold to spend time in and you most likely use it for storage. If you invest in proper insulation for your attic you can easily turn it into a spare bedroom or a workspace.
Increases the Value of Your Home
Investing in the best insulation for your attic is a smart idea if you are planning to put your house on the market. It may not be the most aesthetically pleasing addition to your home, but new homebuyers appreciate the added bonus of proper insulation.
Attic insulation can be a pivotal selling point, because it offers protection to the roof, lowers the home’s energy costs, and keeps the temperature stable and comfortable in every room.
We’ll Help You Find the Best Insulation for Your Attic
Finding the best insulation material for your attic has a variety of benefits. Proper attic insulation can not only lower your energy bill, but it can also positively affect the health and well-being of you and your family.
Whether you have a tiny or large space to insulate, the experts at Ambient Edge can ensure you have the right insulation for your space and budget. We can help you keep your home comfortable for many years. Call us or fill out a contact form to schedule your service for an estimate today.