How much of an attic should be insulated?

The R value is a measure of the insulation's ability to withstand heat flow. The higher the R value, the better the thermal performance of the insulation. The recommended level for most attics is to insulate them to R-38 or approximately 10 to 14 inches, depending on the type of insulation. Attics and roofs with adequate insulation will pay off in just four years.

The Department of Energy estimates that a properly insulated attic can reduce your heating and cooling bill by 10 to 50 percent. As you can imagine, the amount of insulation needed in the attic and the recommended R value for a homeowner are based on geographical location. If the attic has obstructions, you may not be able to install blocks; block insulation also doesn't provide a vapor barrier.

Attic insulation

tends to stabilize over time, so it no longer provides the necessary insulating strength for the area.

Insulating the attic also requires complex machines to effectively reach nooks and crannies, and unless you're already familiar with these tools, you may be using them incorrectly. To find out if you have enough insulation in the attic, measure the thickness of the insulation from top to bottom with a ruler. For example, when determining what degree of attic insulation is sufficient for those living in the extreme south of the United States. In the US, things are getting interesting.

In the most simplistic terms, insulation is designed to stop the movement of heat, either from the attic to the house during the summer or from inside the house to the outside in winter. However, the DOE recommends that attics in southern homes be insulated with a minimum insulation of 13 to 14 inches, or R-38. With blown fiberglass insulation, this means a minimum of 12 inches of attic insulation and up to 20 inches of fiberglass insulation. In addition, it is very important to understand how the insulation “settles” so as not to end up insulating the attic enough. For example, uncoated insulation is ideal to complement existing attic insulation, but paper-coated insulation is better for spaces new.

If you're starting from scratch and you don't have attic insulation yet, start with an R value of at least 38. For those who flood insulation (our favorite option), be sure to install some improvised “depth gauges” in the attic from scrap wood.

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