Do-it-Yourself Attic Insulation Increases Maximum Energy Efficiency… or Does It?

There has been a lot of information lately on the news and the Internet about how you can save energy and money by insulating your home attic space yourself. It sounds like a simple enough process: purchase rolls of fiberglass insulation at your local home improvement store, get up on a ladder and roll that insulation out. Doing so increases your home energy efficiency and reduces your monthly energy bills…or does it?

According to industry experts, if homeowners who are inexperienced install insulation themselves to save money, they may be throwing money away. Why? If insulation is misaligned even by a mere 5 percent, the R-Value can be cut in half. And if you’re not experienced in installing insulation, you may be in for other surprises as well like tight spaces, excessive heat and critters.

What is R-Value?

The R-Value is a measure of thermal resistance used in the building and construction industry. Under uniform conditions it is the ratio of the temperature difference across an insulator and the heat transport per unit area.
So, what’s the R-Value at your house? In the greater Phoenix, Arizona area the most common insulators and their average estimated R-Values are:

  • Blown-in Cellulose: Average R-Value is 3.7 per inch
  • Blown-in Fiberglass: Average R-Value is 2.8 per inch
  • Batt Fiberglass: Average R-Value is 2.8 per inch

How is R-Value determined?

Determining the correct R-Value for your home can be tricky. A lot depends upon the age and construction of your home.
As energy costs rise, the burden will be passed on to consumers. Living in a desert climate such as Arizona will cost homeowners more in energy bills in the coming years. For example, in 2008, the US Department of Energy recommended that an attic R-Value should be anywhere from R-30 to R-38. But, as the cost of energy increased, recommended R-Values increased as well, to upwards of R-49.
Saving money is important to everyone, but throwing money away is senseless. Before you climb up that ladder into your attic, consider the services of a qualified home energy auditor who can tell you what the correct R-Value is for your home and provide other money-saving suggestions to make your energy dollars work harder for you.


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