Summer is drawing to an end and winter is quickly approaching. While none of us have need to turn on our heaters yet, it is time to consider whether or not you’re well-protected against the cold.
With the autumnal season comes cold weather and a big increase in energy bills. One of the most telling signs of a poorly insulated house is when you notice your energy bills are sky high, but your house remains chilly enough to warrant you wearing a sweater and slippers. If that was you last winter, it might be time to take a look at the condition of your home insulation before you start handing over your paycheck to your energy provider.
Properly insulating your attic and crawl space can save you quite literally thousands of dollars over the course of the next 10 years. On many occasions, our customers have found that their insulation job pays for itself over the course of one winter due to the decrease in energy required to heat their home.
The most common choice of insulation is batt fiberglass. It’s effective insular qualities and inexpensive prices make it a popular option for insulation. In other words, it has quality enough to do its job, without costing a fortune at the onset. With an R-value per inch of 3.1 – 4.3, fiberglass insulation will keep your home energy efficient and toasty warm.
Downside to Fiberglass Insulation:
Fiberglass works best in large flat areas that do not have multiple cross beams or obstacles such as wires or outlets, as these will create air pockets and gaps that will diminish its effectiveness as insulating your home. At AtticFiveStars we can counteract this at times by combining blown insulation in addition to the batted rolls.
Also, fiberglass that’s exposed to moisture will have its insular qualities greatly diminished. The water will take the place of air in the gaps between the fibers. Because water so easily conducts heat, it allows the heat to escape from the home.
Spray Foam Insulation:
Spray foam insulation is the most effective insulation on the market today. It has the highest R-value, coming in at R-6 per square inch. Spray foam insulation (we recommend the closed-cell type) also provides an air seal and moisture barrier.
As the insulation is sprayed onto the surface of an area, it expands to fill all nooks and crannies. This makes it ideal for areas that have many obstacles that would get in the way of batt rolls. Its rigidity also provides a structural support for your building.
Downside to Spray Foam Insulation:
Unsurprisingly, considering it’s top-notch insular qualities and moisture barrier capabilities, spray foam insulation is the most expensive type of insulation on the market, costing up to 2-4 times the amount of other types of insulation. We feel that this is well offset, however, by it’s greater capabilities and the fact that it so frequently outlasts other types of insulation.
We can also use a hybrid approach for clients. We recommend to use spray foam insulation on the first two inches of the area to get the benefits of the air seal and moisture barrier. The remaining area may then be filled in with less expensive insulation, such as fiberglass or cellulose.
Cellulose and Cotton Insulation:
The most common forms of natural fiber insulation is cellulose, which is made from recycled plants fibers such as newspapers, and cotton, which is most commonly made from recycled denim.
This type of insulation comes in batts and as blown-in insulation. It’s R-value ranges from 3.5-3.8 per inch. Because both cellulose and cotton insulation are made from primarily recycled materials, it is a common choice for homes that want to be eco-friendly.
Because this insulation is blown-in, it is a common choice for areas that have many obstacles, such as wires, outlets, etc. It is also frequently used to fill wall cavities in homes that do not have or have had to remove insulation from the walls. A hole can be cut into the wall and the insulation blown in to fill it.
Downside to Natural Fiber Insulation:
Both types of insulation should not be exposed to moisture. The fibers will wick up water and are very difficult to dry. Additionally, cotton or cellulose insulation will develop mold or mildew if the damp areas are not dried out completely or removed.
Foam Board Insulation:
This insulation is actually made from materials similar to that of spray foam insulation. It has a very high insular value, ranging from R-4.5-6 per inch. It is impermeable to moisture, similar to the spray foam insulation. It can be easily and quite cheaply installed, and is excellent for use in large, flat areas, such as wall cavities or between floors.
Downside to Foam Board:
The large sheets of foam board can make it difficult for an area that has accumulated moisture, whether airborne or from a leak, to dry out. (Foam board does not provide an airtight seal like spray foam, and thus air borne moisture is a factor.) This makes it important for builders and insulators to ensure that the area in which it is installed is protected from moisture.
Also, foam board is arguably one of the least environmentally friendly options on the market currently. To offset this, however, many programs and recycling facilities have developed recycling and repurposing programs to help limit foam boards’ impact on the environment.
AtticFiveStars has a long history of keeping clients satisfied with a job well done. We are glad to work within your budget, providing cost-saving ideas and information on possible rebates through utilities providers in your area.
We’d love to offer you our professional advice regarding your insulation needs. If you’d like a free quote, submit the quote request form you will find on our homepage and specials page. We’ll call you to schedule an appointment and get your home fit for winter weather in no time!
Added insulation in the attic will make the upstairs rooms more comfortable in the summer. It will also reduce your cooling and heating loads, saving you money on your utility bills.
Just to give a rough idea of your savings, consider this: Let’s assume your attic is 1,500 square feet and it is currently insulated with 6 inches of loose-fill fiberglass for R-13. On a hot summer day when the attic temperature is around 120°F, the heat gain into the living space through the ceiling is 5,800 Btu per hour. Nearly a half ton of air conditioning would be needed to take care of that heat gain.
Adding 16 inches of cellulose over the existing insulation will give you R-38, dropping the heat gain from 5,800 to about 1,250 Btu per hour—a reduction of nearly 0.4 tons of air conditioning, which will make it easier for your upstairs cooling system to keep the temperatures lower.
Before adding new insulation, seal all of the air infiltration pathways between the living area and the attic—including around wiring, plumbing penetrations, ceiling light fixtures, vent fans, and the attic hatch. In many homes, these leaks are the single largest source of air infiltration, and plugging them will reduce your heating and cooling bills and reduce the chance of moisture problems in the attic. This sealing is a lot easier to do before the new insulation goes in. This is also a good time to seal and insulate any heating or cooling ducts in the attic.
At AtticFiveStars we offer every service detailed above.
Keep cool and save money on air conditioning too. Here are the five best ways to cut costs and improve your AC system.
Overview: Costs and savings
Staying cool is expensive. In a hot climate like Texas, the average family spends about $600 a year on cooling. In the Midwest, it’s about $300. But costs vary a lot within regions and even within a single neighborhood. Your home may cost $700 to keep cool while a similar home next door costs half that. This article will help you make your home the low-cost energy leader on the block. Our focus is on cutting cooling costs, but many of these tips will save you money on your heating too.
Replace your old air conditioner
Replacing a 10-year-old window or central AC unit with an Energy Star model can cut your cooling costs by 30 to 50 percent and save you enough over the new unit’s lifetime to offset its purchase price. This is especially true if you live in a hot, humid climate. Central AC units are rated for efficiency according to their Seasonal Energy- Efficiency Ratio (SEER). Window units are rated according to their Energy-Efficiency Ratio (EER). The SEER/EER rating is listed on the Energy Guide label (below). The higher the number, the more efficient the unit. If you double your SEER (or EER), you can cut your AC operating costs in half. To find the rating on an older unit, check the data label or plug the model number into the online CEE-ARI database at energystar.gov on the Central Air Conditioners page. New units are required by law to have a SEER of at least 13 and an EER of 8. Central AC units manufactured from 1992 through 2005 have a SEER of about a 10, and older models are at 6 or 7.
Contact Virginia at AtticFiveStars for a free quote 1.800.683.5123
Tune and clean your AC regularly
A poorly maintained air conditioner uses 10 to 30 percent more energy and has a shorter life. Central AC compressors last on average about 10 to 12 years. Proper maintenance can extend that to 20 years. It’s important to have a professional tune, clean and check controls and refrigerant levels on your central AC system every two to three years. If your refrigerant needs recharging, this correction can improve efficiency by 20 percent. It’s also important to perform DIY maintenance each year. We are offering a $60 Tune Up Special April Tune Up Special
Keep cool with shade. Plant a Tree or Two
Cut AC costs through your own sweat equity by shading your house with trees, trellises, and vines. Shading blocks direct sunlight through the roof and windows, which is responsible for about half of the heat gain in your home. Carefully positioned trees and horizontal trellises on the east and west sides can save up to 30 percent of a household’s energy consumption for heating and cooling. For an average household, that’s $100 to $250 in energy costs annually.
Clean or change AC filters monthly
Dirty air filters are the No. 1 cause of air conditioning breakdowns and they cost about 7 percent more in energy costs (or about $45 a year) in hot climates. Change central AC furnace filters monthly during the summer. Most window units have a removable filter behind the air inlet grille that you can take out and rinse monthly.
Block out sun with window shades
Roughly 30 percent of unwanted heat comes through your windows. Putting shades, insulating curtains or tinted window film on south- and west-facing windows can save you up to 7 percent, or $45, annually on cooling costs. The combination of shades and trees (see Tip 3) can lower indoor temps by 20 degrees on a hot day. Insulating curtains will save even more on both heating and cooling costs.
No matter how small your attic is, there’s probably enough room up there to store at least some of the things you don’t have space for in the house. Still, your attic “as is” might not be in any shape to safely house your possessions without eventually ruining them. Here are 10 things to consider as you convert your attic into a mini storage room:
How sturdy is the floor? Your attic might have a plywood floor, and it might not have a floor at all. Reinforce the attic floor if you plan to store books, old record albums or other heavy items on it. The attic floor doubles as the ceiling of your living space. If it’s not strong enough, piling boxes onto it can send your ceiling crashing down.
As homeowners, that they should probably insulate their attic, but what are the actual benefits of attic insulation? Most homeowners and contractors choose to insulate for multiple reasons, including the cost and energy savings. Below, we have listed some of the most talked-about potential attic-insulation benefits.
Benefit #1: Cost Savings
The vast majority of people will experience a high amount of energy savings as a result of significantly reduced heat loss. Also, insulation can help you keep in the cool air in times of hot weather. This can lead to savings of hundreds of dollars on your monthly electricity bill. The statistics vary, but some homeowners have reported as much as a 50% savings once their attic has been insulated. How much you save will depend on a multitude of factors, such as the shape of your house and attic, the type of heating in the house, and the climate of the area. On a grander scale, Americans have saved billions of dollars in energy costs just due to attic insulation. Benefits to a household budget can be great: This small investment can make a dramatic change in a home, especially in homes built earlier than the 1970s. Simply saving money can be one of the most appealing factors to many homeowners.
Benefit #2: Protecting the Environment
For those who care only about their wallets, the first benefit is enough. On the other hand, those motivated by helping the environment will be happy, too. Insulating your attic, according to the Department of Energy, is one of the most important energy-saving projects you can complete in your home. The energy saved with this means less need for energy creation, so power plants won’t need to produce said energy. This also reduces pollution, as the majority of plants, whether they use fossil fuels or nuclear energy, must harm the environment in some way with byproducts or waste. Reducing the amount of energy we consume can have a big effect on local ecosystems, and on a larger scale, it can help the entire country. Of course, it’s clear that the benefits of attic insulation are great; however, this should be just one step in a family’s overall energy-saving plan. One should also invest in temperature control and duct cleaning and replacement.
Benefit #3: Preventing Long-Term Damage from Moisture
When an attic is not properly insulated, the rising heat might lead to melting snow on a roof, which can then lead to ice dams. Moisture, ice dams, and condensation can slowly, steadily cause persistent damage in a home, especially on the roof, which can be very expensive to repair. Moisture can also seep inside, and wet insulation is much less effective at keeping in heat. This turns into a horrible cycle of long-term damage. By sealing, checking, and changing out your insulation, you can prevent quite a few headaches down the road. If you do have condensation or moisture inside your attic, it may be symptomatic of roofing issues or leakage; it’s important to call experts right away to have this checked out.
These are just a few of the many benefits of making sure your attic has clean and effective insulation. If your attic is leaking energy, causing you to lose money, and possibly wreaking havoc on other areas of your home, it’s time to call the best company for professional attic insulation services: AtticFiveStars. We handle everything, from pest prevention to commercial insulation. Contact us online today to get a free estimate.