What are the benefits of attic insulation?
Insulating attic spaces reduces the energy losses caused by ongoing drafts and infiltration of warm air from ceilings below. This happens because it is a lot easier to keep warm air close to the ceiling than it is to get colder air close, so insulation on your roof can lower your home's heating or cooling costs up to 10% annually. In addition, if you have been considering installing solar panels but had concerns about finding room for them on your roof, insulation may relieve these concerns because more space will be created on the roof surface through which sunlight can reach the solar panels mounted beneath it.
Houses with insulated gutters and above-grade extensions retain heat longer during winter months and shed heat faster in summer months when the sun heats outer surfaces. This reduces attic temperature in summer and winter, which reduces attic condensation in summer and heat loss in winter. So attic insulation could reduce the likelihood of mold growth in your attic during hot weather.
Insulating a foundation walls helps to prevent cold drafts from entering the basement area by making sure that any transfer points between inside and outside are sealed tightly, blocking wind from coming through around doors, windows or electrical outlets.
Installing well-insulated attic doors is another way to let warm air escape from your attic when opened without letting too much cool air into the rest of the house below. This means you will have to run your AC less often because there is less excess heat within the attic that has nowhere else to go except down into the attic.
Insulating attic spaces is one of the best ways to increase the efficiency of your home and reduce your energy bills, especially if you live in a colder climate where heating costs could be prohibitive during winter months.
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How does attic insulation work?
Attic insulation focuses on reducing the amount of heat that's transferred from inside to the outside through the roof. It does this by making it less likely for warmth to escape through one side, and it simultaneously reduces how much thermal energy is being conducted straight from a warmer surface (inside) to a cooler surface (outside).
In order for insulation to do its job though, there has be an area of contact between the vapor barrier and the felt or battens. This is because slabs may have been inadequately sealed or contain gaps, resulting in dew condensation and/or water infiltration into lower levels. If these conditions exist, then radiant heat transfer will occur easily at these gaps. Thus battens should be spaced about 1 inch away from the vapor barrier.
Proper attic insulation is important in order to avoid degrading both indoor and outdoor air quality, conserving energy usage for heating, cooling, and ventilation expenses in the home, and maintaining stable humidity levels. High ceilings can be problematic because there isn't as much attic space available for insulation. It's vital to properly insulate attics with high ceilings to prevent reduced R-value (thermal resistance) throughout attic spaces by allowing convective drafts through attic areas. This reduces the effectiveness of insulation materials.
Air sealing should therefore occur prior to installing attic insulation. For example consider all surfaces that are accessible including attic hatch openings, staircase openings (for access), plumbing stacks/penetrations; heating duct penetrations; attic stairway openings; attic hatch opening; electrical penetrations; attic kneewall insulation. Use caulk, spray foam, or canned foam to seal all of these spaces.
Attic access should be sealed as well by installing a tight fitting attic door or return air plenum cover with an insulated gasket. If the attic is unconditioned (no forced air heating/cooling) consider sealing with polyurethane spray foam which will allow for future attic access without compromising insulation value.
Insulating exposed roof rafters is another way to prevent heat transfer from inside of the home through the roof.
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