Types of Attic Insulation

Many homes are under-insulated, which can lead to high energy bills* and preventable problems like ice dams in the winter. The good news is that attic insulation is one of the cheapest and most effective home improvement projects you can undertake to save money on heating and cooling costs and improve your home’s comfort.

A professional attic inspection is the best way to determine if you have the recommended amount of insulation. If not, adding more can dramatically cut your energy costs and help you to meet climate zone requirements for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

The R-Value of a insulation product measures its ability to resist heat flow. The higher the R-Value, the greater the insulating power. Different climate zones require different R-Values to achieve a desired level of energy savings.

Insulation is typically sold in battsĀ attic insulation at GCI or rolls that are fitted between wall studs, attic joists and ceiling rafters, floor joists, and wood beams. The width of the batts or rolls is sized to fit standard stud and joist spacing. They can be installed as a DIY project, although it is recommended that you consult with the manufacturer for installation and safety guidelines.

Loose-fill insulation can be made from a variety of materials, including cellulose (recycled newspaper), fiberglass, and mineral (rock or slag) wool. All of these are produced using recycled materials. Loose-fill insulation is blown in place by experienced installers to ensure the proper density and R-Value. Other types of loose-fill insulation include polystyrene beads and vermiculite.

Fiberglass batt insulation is often the most affordable choice and performs well in most residential applications. It is available in a variety of R-Values and fits into tight spaces easily. It can also be trimmed and shaped to fill gaps around wires and pipes.

While it does a good job of resisting conductive and convective heat flow, fiberglass insulation is susceptible to moisture damage. When it gets wet, it can reduce its R-Value significantly and take a long time to dry out.

A radiant barrier or reflective insulation system is a type of attic insulation that works by reflecting radiant heat away from the home. It is often used in conjunction with air-sealing to improve a home’s thermal performance.

An ENERGY STAR qualified contractor can help you to determine which type of attic insulation is best for your home. They can also conduct a thorough attic inspection and recommend the correct R-Value for your area. Energy Star recommends a minimum of R-38 for most attics. To learn more, visit the Energy Star website.