Did you know that up to 50% of heat loss in your home is through the attic? Heating and Cooling accounts for 50 to 70% of the energy used in the average american home, while inadequate insulation and air leakage are leading causes of energy waste in most homes. Adding insulation to your attic is an inexpensive solution with immediate results in both comfort and energy savings. Below are the 3 typical types of insulation found in most insulated attics. Give us a call or request a proposal to schedule a free estimate to see how Toler can help increase the comfort of your home and start saving you money today!
These are large pieces of insulation that hold together because they’re made of long, interweaving fibers with adhesive binders. The two kinds of batts you’re most likely to encounter are fiberglass and cotton. In terms of their insulating quality, they’re pretty much equivalent. Cotton batts, though, are ‘cool’ because they’re made of recycled blue jeans.
The problem with batts, however, is that they don’t work well because they don’t fill the space well. For the best performance, an insulation material needs to fill the whole space, with no gaps, voids, compression, or incompletely filled areas. Batts are about the worst you can do here.
See that photo above? Notice that you don’t see insulation filling all the spaces between the ceiling joists. In this case, it’s because they weren’t cut to fill the cavity completely. Another reason that batts don’t do so well is that the house is full of other stuff where we want the insulation to go: wires, electrical junction boxes, framing, bathroom exhaust fans, can lights… Batts don’t do well when they have to compete against all that.
A better choice is insulation that comes in smaller chunks. The installer, taking his best firefighter pose, holds a large hose and blows the chunks into the attic. A large machine outside churns the chunks and uses air to blow them up through the hose.
The two main choices here are fiberglass and cellulose, and each has its advantages and disadvantages. They both insulate about the same, though, with R-vales in the 3 to 4 per inch range. Cellulose comes from recycled newspapers. Fiberglass comes from what I’ve heard one major fiberglass insulation manufacturer call a ‘rapidly renewable’ resource – sand. Hmmmm. I don’t know about that, but it’s a common insulation material that works much better in the blown form than in batts.
The photo above shows an attic insulated with blown cellulose. Notice how you don’t see any of the ceiling framing down at the ceiling level. You also don’t see any gaps that allow you to see all the way down to the ceiling drywall. That’s because blown insulation is great at filling the gaps and giving you a good, complete layer of insulation.
The third major type of insulation is spray foam. Just as there are two types of blown insulation (fiberglass and cellulose), there are two types of spray foam – open cell and closed cell. The main advantage of spray foam is that it allows you to move the building envelope – the boundary between conditioned and unconditioned space – from the attic floor to the roofline. If you’ve got your HVAC system and ducts in the attic, then moving the envelope to the roofline can be a good thing. In a new home, spraying foam in the roofline can bring the ducts inside the envelope without having to redesign the system and house.