An important part of your home is the attic insulation – the material used can save on average 20 – 30% on electrical usage, keep the interior of you home cool during the summer season and warm in the cooler months. Home insulation is important even in the warm South Florida climate – in this article we will discuss what you need to know about your attic insulation, materials and installation methods, and how insulation improves energy efficiency in your home.
Insulation material comes in two categories, natural or synthetic, and in several forms – Batts (blankets), Loose-fill, Spray Foam, or Panels. Batted fiberglass was the norm in insulation material for years, although new insulation technology has been introduced giving homeowners more options at different price points. Batt or blanket insulation is made from fiberglass and laid inside casings which go lengthwise across the attic floor. Batting is one of the more affordable insulation types and is relatively easy to install.
Loose-fill or blown-in insulation is made from cellulose, fiberglass, or wool. Most spray foams on the market are made from polyurethane or polyisocyanurate and are applied to enclosed walls, wall cavities, and unfinished attic floors. Although effective, spray foam insulation can be toxic and requires proper installation by a certified technician.
Consult your installer to discuss what options are best for you and the structure for your home. The R-Value scale in all insulation material measures thermal resistance or the effectiveness of heat transfer. For example, a 3.5” batt has an R-value of 11 and 3.5” high density batt has an R-value of 15. Whatever material you choose, the higher R-value means the material has better insulating properties.
Insulating the attic is critical because more heat passes, per square foot, through the ceiling than any other area of the home. The first step in determining if you need to repair or replace attic insulation is to have an inspection done. It is important to hire a licensed professional since accessing attic or crawl spaces and the handling of insulation require specific training and expertise.
An inspector can determine the condition of existing insulation and where there may be air leaks, which require sealing before insulation can be replaced or installed. If you have an unfinished attic space, insulate between and over flooring joists. If you have a finished attic, with or without dormer windows, insulate between the studs of the knees (vertical walls below the roofing), between studs and rafters, and at the ceiling where there may be cold spaces.
For South Florida residents, it’s highly recommended to install radiant barrier attic insulation. These are a type of heat-reflective system which are usually made from aluminum foil and various backing such as sheathing, kraft paper, film overlay, or cardboard. Radiant barriers are normally located between rafters, joists, or wall studs. Those installed in walls or on the attic floor should be perforated to allow water vapor to pass through. Radiant barrier insulation effectively deflects exterior heat, thereby keeping the home cooler and also saves considerably on electrical usage.
Attic insulation repair or replacement is best left to professionals – at Art Plumbing, Air Conditioning & Electric we provide a variety of attic insulation and renovation solutions. Contact us today and let one of our Home Comfort Consultants help you get the right insulation for your home and budget.
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