We haven’t spent any time in the attic lately so I thought we could take a trip above our houses today and see what is happening up there. Our Florida attics on a typical summer day will top out at 150 degrees in temperature and properly insulating your attic can make a huge difference in the way your home feels, cools, and can really save you money on cooling costs.
The word insulation according to Merriam-Webster means “material that is used to stop the passage of heat, electricity, or sound from one conductor to another”. Your trivia fact for the day is the word insulation was first used in print in 1798 so I guess we can safely say that insulation is not a new concept. So how does attic insulation work here in South Florida?
Let’s begin with some building science basics. In everyone’s mind heat rises, which is correct in most cases, however in a home environment the heat of the attic is attracted to the cold in the home. When our attic heats up the air pressures in the home force that heat down the walls, and it comes out around recessed can lights, outlets, light switches basically any opening in the walls can transfer heat to the home. Anything that we can do to reduce heat transfer from the attic will improve the feel of the living space. For example we can use a rubber gasket around those can lights to stop heat transfer, that’s a form of insulation. We can also use a similar gasket behind the cover plates of light switches and outlets.
Let’s move on to the attic itself. If you want to go over the top we can remove all the old insulation from the attic and using an expanding thermal foam, seal all the top plates in the attic isolating the living space from the attic. By definition a top plate is the hollow space in the attic where walls meet ceilings. Yes top plate sealing is a different type of insulation.
Further in the attic let’s move on to the most common type of insulation which is usually some form of fiberglass. The two most common types of fiberglass insulation are “batted” or “loose fill”. Batted insulation comes in a roll form about two feet wide and depending on the insulating value can be anywhere from 4”-12” in thickness. The bats are put down on the attic deck between the trusses with the paper side down. Loose fill insulation is exactly what it sounds like; a machine is used to blow the insulation into the attic space effectively forming a thermal barrier. Loose fill tends to be easier to work with and be more effective in that it doesn’t really leave any air gaps. The other key to insulation being effective is it needs to be the same depth throughout the attic. If the insulation in your attic looks like windblown snow drifts you’ll end up with hot and cold spots in the house.
Per one of the largest insulation manufacturers in the world, Owens Corning, properly insulating your attic will reduce the cooling costs in your home a minimum of 20%. In terms of return on investment, the process of insulating a home typically takes 5-7 years to pay for itself not to mention all the other benefits. Up until 2017, building code required 4” of insulation in new construction, however as of last year that changed, and the code minimum is now 12”. If you take it a step further and go to the Department of Energy’s website they recommend 18” for the best results.
I could go on for hours on this subject because I love being cool and really love saving money. I suggest if you haven’t had your attic looked at in awhile, check it out or have us check it out for you; I’d love to save you some money too.
Until another 10,800 minutes have ticked off the clock and you are back to this very page I was dozing off the other night wondering why Marvel comics hasn’t tried putting ads on the Incredible Hulk, I’m mean c’mon he’s just a huge Banner…………
House Whisperer out!!
PS. For those of you who have been following along this blog marks my 200th post. It’s hard to believe I’ve been at this for four years. Thank you for spending you precious time with me!
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