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    • Attic Insulation: What’s Up There?

    • While most people know that attic insulation helps homeowners, builders or even renters save money, most people don’t know if their current situation is adequate. Some older homes have bare attics, while another home may have experienced a do-it-yourself job. Knowing what’s right for your home is pretty easy to figure out with the help of a professional. Making sure your home has what it needs is key in keeping your energy costs down.

      First, evaluate the situation with the help of a professional! You may want to contact a local roofing company for a consultation. If you are considering insulating an existing structure, accompany the consultant as your attic is examined. If you live in an older home, don’t be surprised if you find animal droppings or other small creatures. The important thing is that no matter what’s up there, don’t start taking care of things yourself until you know what needs to be done. Your consultation may show that you need a complete re-do, or you may just need to have certain areas fixed up. For example, dragging old attic insulation through your home is unsafe; you’ll be introducing fiberglass particles or other airborne contaminants into your home. As far as new homes go, you’re in luck—it’s usually much easier to start from scratch.

      Your consultant may come back to you with any number of suggestions. Recommendations will be made based on the age of your current insulation (if any is in place), the location of your structure, and your home’s needs. For new homes, you can actually visit the Department of Energy online recommended R-values, or the rating of how well the product can resist heat transfer.

      One common solution is blown-in insulation, which is made of either mineral fibers or fire-retardant cellulose. Spray foam is a similar but different solution; it’s more expensive but allows buildings to move the building envelope upward. This is especially important for those with a HVAC system and ductwork in the attic or lots of air leaks in their home’s ceilings.

      Another option is batting. This is the most budget-friendly option, and can be made of fiberglass, mineral wool or—in rare cases—cotton. Many people choose to do this themselves, but this often leads to gaps and therefore can be less effective.

      Loose-fill solutions are made of the same types of materials, but generally require a professional installation. If there’s air movement in the space, this type of material may have problems settling correctly.

      There are, of course, a few other options out there. It’s between you and your chosen pro to talk about what options best fit your budget. The important thing is that builders and owners understand the significance of choosing the appropriate materials and people for the job. Taking care of your home is an important investment!