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December 5, 2013
When a homeowner understands the energy benefits from attic insulation, it is the first step in ensuring the home has what it needs. Adequate attic insulation is an important factor in keeping an HVAC unit from having to work harder to maintain appropriate temperatures in a home. With improved energy efficiency, the residents improve their comfort while reducing utility bills.
How it Works
Insulation slows heat flow through materials from one place to another. The basics of thermodynamics dictate that warm air will travel to cooler spaces until the temperatures are even. This means warm air in winter will try to reach a cold attic, while hot attic air in the summer will try to reach the cooler rooms below.
Insulation inhibits this natural flow of warm air. In winter months, it works much the way a heavy sweater impedes the transfer of warmth to the cooler air outside of the sweater. In summer months, insulation slows the transfer of heat into the home. When insulation does its job, the HVAC system has smaller temperature differences to correct in any season.
Amount of Insulation
Insulation in the attic should be evenly distributed, and it should be installed to the recommended depth depending upon your climate zone. The insulation need not be much higher than that, but it should be that level at least. It should also have a moisture barrier on the side that has contact with the ceiling. Because wet insulation has a diminished ability to inhibit heat transfer, even if it does reach an otherwise adequate height on the attic surface, the vapor barrier is crucial.
Levels of R-Value
R-Value measures resistance to heat flow, with the R literally referring to resistance. The higher the levels, the better the performance of the insulation. The current recommended range in our climate zone per International Energy Conservation Code 2012 is R-49. If a closed cell 2 part foam is used, the insulation can be applied in two layers to reach the recommended range. Sometimes a combination of foam and cellulose or fiberglass is used to accomplish the task. A BPI or RESNET professional can recommend a specific protocol for your home.
Home Energy Assessment
An assessment of energy consumption in a home can help to determine necessary measures to be more energy efficient. An evaluation of insulation, including attic insulation, would be part of a home energy audit. Homeowners can get a good start with evaluating energy usage, but a professional audit is likely to be more thorough and effective. In preparing for an assessment, it is important to ensure clear access to the attic ladder and space. The hatch or door should be closed, however, until the auditor requests access.
Having determined that there are deficiencies in the insulation that must be addressed, the homeowner is then ready to make decisions about how to address them. HVAC professionals can help with the exact products to use to replace or bolster what is already there. Making the best choices will help a consumer to enjoy the energy benefits from attic insulation.
Are you in the Denver area and need an energy audit on your attic insulation? Contact us today.