Some General Guidelines for Proper Attic Insulation

We live in a region of weather extremes.  It means that we need to heat our homes in the winter and cool off in the summer.  But with energy costs on the rise, and utility bills on the increase, the key is energy conservation.  And energy conservation goes hand-in-hand with energy efficiency, with everything geared to better insulation.  Planning and executing proper attic insulation is a great place to start, and while it looks straightforward to the layperson, there are pitfalls and challenges.

Insulating the attic is not just about cramming and jamming insulation material wherever possible.  For instance, you certainly don’t want to be obstructing any of the existing air ventilation – it will completely upset the insulation/ventilation balance and defeat the original purpose.  But at the same time, sealing is critical – openings, holes and gaps must be sealed, and that includes covering up plumbing pipes, air ducts, and electrical wires.  However, proper ventilation is just as critical.

When it comes to installing attic insulation, the layperson is disadvantaged, mainly because there are so many things to consider.  Like recessed ceiling lights – if not properly handled, they may pose a fire hazard when insulation is improperly installed.  A professional installer will know how to handle this type of challenge, even it means replacing the light fixtures.  The truth is, regardless of the specific onsite challenge, its best handled by an expert, especially in unforeseen situations.

Installing a vapor barrier is also an important component in attic insulation, and a component that must be installed properly.  Moisture control is vital for the attic, and an improper install can throw everything off – it defeats the original purpose.  Beyond that, reworking an improper install can involve additional cost, not to mention unnecessary stress.  Clearly, the DIY approach has its pitfalls – and lack of experience and expertise doesn’t enhance the project.

Choosing the proper attic insulation can also be somewhat challenging – every advertised product seems to be the best, and every advertised contractor seems to be number one.  If the decision is about hiring a good contractor, then there are some fundamentals to consider – they should be using the best quality products – they should be committed to a high level of customer service and support – and their installations should be covered by the appropriate warranties.

Insulating the attic is worth doing right the first time.  The bottom line, of course, is to save money on energy costs, but a proper install can also provide better air circulation throughout the home, and improved home comfort for the occupants from one season to the next.  The well-planned, well-executed attic insulation project will also contribute to better functioning of the HVAC equipment, which translates into improved efficiency and additional cost savings.

Whatever the final choice of insulation product, the best approach to attic insulation is the comprehensive approach – everything must be sealed properly, ventilated properly, and insulated properly.  It’s the only way to realize all of the benefits and all of the savings.