Why Insulate Your Attic Anyway?If your attic is anything like mine, it doesn’t receive many visitors—except during the holiday season when you’re fetching your Christmas ornaments. But just because you may not spend a lot of time up there doesn’t mean you don’t have to insulate it. In fact, the attic is probably the most important part of your home to insulate here in Northern California. You may have noticed if you’ve ever poked your head up there during the summer that your attic is boiling hot. When attics aren’t insulated in the summer, heat makes its way inside quickly and effortlessly, creating what I liken to a giant oven on the top of the house. The hot air from the attic then makes its way into the rest of the home, raising the temperature dramatically. Likewise, in the winter, the cold air from the attic acts as a freezer for all the toasty warm air to escape to. In addition to playing an integral role in regulating temperature in the home, insulating your attic has the following benefits:
- A more efficient home: Did you know that the simple act of insulating your attic can reduce your home’s energy output by 20-60%? It’s the single most effective thing you can do to cut down on your energy consumption. Not only will you be having a positive impact on our beautiful Northern California environment, you’ll be saving a lot of cash! I’m sure you can imagine how a 20-60% reduction in energy output could impact your energy bill.
- A longer lasting HVAC system: When hot air is infiltrating your air-conditioned home via the attic all summer long, your HVAC system is put under a lot of pressure. It will have to be constantly working to cool your home in order to offset the heat coming in through the attic. And when your HVAC unit doesn’t get a break, it’s bound to run into some issues. Not only will its lifespan be a lot shorter if it has to work around the clock, but it will also need more frequent maintenance and repairs. It’s the same in the winter with your furnace! If it’s constantly working to heat your home because the warm air is escaping through the chilly attic, it’ll get tired—and you could end up with some serious problems.
- Better duct functionality: If your HVAC system is in the attic, or you’ve got a lot of ductwork up there and your attic isn’t insulated, condensation tends to form on your ducts. This can cause dripping and leaking into your ceiling and walls, which then invites mold growth. Trust me when I say you do not want this to happen. An insulated attic, though, prevents temperature fluctuations that cause condensation. Insulation will also help prevent energy loss through the ductwork.
Choosing the Best Attic Insulation for Your California HomeNow that you understand just how important insulating your attic is for your home, it’s time to talk about what kind of insulation you should install. Here are the three main types of insulation best for Northern California homes, and the pros and cons of each:
- Loose insulation: Made of cellulose, this type of insulation is common in a lot of older homes, but you don’t see it used much anymore. It’s cheap and cheerful, but it tends to settle over time, which means that its insulating power deteriorates as it ages.
- Fiberglass batting: I’m a big fan of fiberglass batting for Northern California homes because it’s easy to install and it’s waterproof. This is typically my choice for most new homes, as it’s great for helping regulate home temperatures in both summer and winter.
- Blown-in insulation: This type of insulation has a long lifespan and, although it’s more expensive, it’s worth using for historic homes that have unique features that are hard to reach with other types of insulation. Blown-in insulation also seals air leaks nicely and reinforces the strength of attic frames, so it can be a great support for aging wood. It’s really quite tricky to install, though, so don’t DIY this one; have an experienced professional come in and do the job for you.