If you're frustrated with the high costs of your utility bills month after month, then upgrading your attic insulation is an easy way to improve the energy efficiency of your home. The Department of Energy estimates that as much as 30% of a home's energy costs can escape through a poorly insulated attic. Considering 60 million homes in the U.S. are under-insulated, this is more than just a minor issue.
Here's the good news--as far as home improvements go, insulating your attic is one of the cheapest and easiest ways to live comfortably without breaking the bank. You'll begin to see the benefits over time when your utility bills start to decline. When your attic is insulated right, you can expect to earn up to 120% back on the cost of insulation by increasing energy efficiency and your home's value, according to Remodeling Magazine.
Why Attic Insulation?
Your attic is the best place to insulate if you want to enjoy the benefits of cheaper bills. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that homeowners can save an average of 15% on heating and cooling costs by sealing air leaks and adding attic insulation. This helps keep your house from losing heat in the winter and helps you stay cooler in the summer.
The two main places where you can upgrade your attic insulation are the floor and the roof. In an unfinished space, you can add layers to what is already on the floor. To finish the attic, you can put insulation against the roof, which is a good option if your heating and cooling ducts pass through the space. In a bigger space like an attic, you can boost the insulation value of a lower-rated material by using a thicker layer on top.
How Much Do You Need?
Many homeowners assume that the amount of insulation in their home is enough; however, it can compress over time. This reduces its effectiveness of regulating the temperature in your home. To visually inspect your attic, check for any exposed floor joists. If the insulation only comes up to the joists, then you probably need to add more. Use a ruler to measure from the floor to the top of the insulation to see how much you have. Then use the recommended insulation levels for your area and subtract your current insulation to determine how much more you need.
Insulation is measured by an R-value, which describes a material's ability to resist heat flow. The higher the R-value, the more effective the insulation. The Department of Energy recommends up to R-60 insulation depending on where you live. Maryland is in Zone 4, which requires anywhere from R-38 to R-60 for an attic. Keep in mind that the maximum R-value depends on installing the insulation properly.
Insulating your attic has plenty of benefits, regardless of where you live or the time of year. The biggest reason is that it saves money by reducing your energy bills, giving you a greater return on investment. It's also easier on the environment because it requires you to use less energy heating or cooling your home.