In warmer climates like ours in the Tampa or Brandon area, home comfort relies more on cooling systems more than heating systems. Both heating and cooling equipment can benefit, however, from improved attic insulation. An adequate level of attic insulation helps keep your indoor living spaces comfortable, reduces overuse of your HVAC equipment, and trims your monthly energy bills substantially.
What Good Does Attic Insulation Do?
The natural tendency of heat is to move from warmer areas to colder ones. Insulation stops or slows this transfer of heat. In the summer, for example, you want to keep as much heat out of your home as possible. In the cooler months, you want to maintain as much heat inside as you can. Insulation is a material that helps make this happen and allows you to maintain better levels of indoor comfort.
During hot days, attics can get even hotter, and the heat will radiate downward into your home at every point that shares a common ceiling/attic floor. As this heat accumulates, your living spaces will become warmer and less comfortable. A similar effect occurs in the winter. As heat rises from the inside of your home, it can enter the attic and escape the building unused. This causes a corresponding loss of heated air and waste of energy and money.
When your attic is properly insulated, this year-round transfer of heat is minimized. You’ll be less likely to run your heating or cooling system at a higher rate, which will save both energy and money. You’ll also put less stress on your furnace, heat pump or air conditioner, which will increase the equipment’s useful lifespan and cut down on costly repairs.
What Type of Insulation is Best for My Attic?
The two most commonly used types of insulation in attics are blanket-style and loose-fill.
Blanket or batt insulation comes in large rolls of varying widths and thicknesses. The insulation itself is made of spun fiberglass or similar material arranged in multiple layers resembling a blanket. There will also usually be a layer of heavy paper, thick cardboard, or plastic film on one or both sides of the insulation. This material makes the insulation easier to handle and reduces the possibility of skin contact, which can cause itching and irritation. Blanket insulation is most commonly placed between beams, studs and joists in the walls, floors or ceilings of rooms.
Loose-fill insulation consists of pellets of an insulating material such as fiberglass, foam or cellulose. Cellulose insulation is often made of recycled materials such as ground-up newspapers. The insulation pellets are literally sprayed into open areas in your attic’s floors and walls, where they fill up the space and provide insulation. The major advantage of loose-fill insulation is that it’s easy to apply and can be used to insulate areas in your attic that are hard to reach or that are shaped irregularly.
Insulation effectiveness is measured by its R-value, which is a numerical indicator of how well it keeps heat from moving from warmer to cooler spaces. Your insulation supplier or installer can tell you more about R-values and how they apply to your insulation project.
Precautions Before Installing Attic Insulation
Precautions should be taken to ensure that insulation does not touch light bulbs, light fixtures, electrical outlets or vents. Sparks or heat from these objects can melt insulation and in some cases might start a fire. Use sheet metal or wire mesh to create barriers to keep insulation away from electrical devices. If fixtures are rated IC for “insulation contact,” no barriers will be needed.
Who Should Do the Job?
A dedicated do-it-yourselfer can install attic insulation. Bear in mind, however, that it can be difficult and physically strenuous to work in an attic space. You also will need to wear protective clothing, eye protection and a respirator while working with insulation. In most cases, it’s probably best to leave attic insulation projects to professional installers with the knowledge, skills and equipment to do the job efficiently and correctly.
Gulf Coast Air Systems provides expert home heating and cooling services for clients in Tampa Bay and the surrounding communities, including Brandon. Contact us today for more information on the many benefits of attic insulation and how you can use attic insulation to improve indoor comfort throughout your home.
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