How Many Inches Of Insulation Should Be In An Attic – The best way to ensure that your home uses energy efficiently is to make sure your attic is properly insulated. Did you know that a properly insulated home can save you around 20% of your annual home heating and cooling costs? That’s right. Fortunately, measuring your attic insulation is a very easy and straightforward task, and requires no special training to do it. Just follow these easy steps to ensure that your attic is adequately insulated:
Before proceeding with your attic insulation measurements, let’s take a quick look at the different types of insulation you may find:
How Many Inches Of Insulation Should Be In An Attic
Cellulose Insulation – This type of insulation is made from recycled paper that has been treated with a flame retardant agent, and blown into the attic or wall. This type of insulation has a higher R-value per square foot when compared to blown or loose rolled
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That is, you can achieve the same R-value with less isolation. However, it is important to note that blow-out insulation (regardless of type) will settle over time, and the initial depth of insulation will be higher (approximately 10-13%) than necessary. The basic R-value for cellulose insulation is 3.8 per inch.
Fiberglass Insulation – This type of insulation is made of fiberglass and is usually installed by cutting large strips from a larger roll and then securing it into place using a stapler gun. This type of insulation has a lower R-value when compared to cellulose insulation, and as a result, you’ll need a greater depth of material to achieve your home’s desired R-value. The basic R-value for fiberglass insulation is 3.2 per inch.
1. Take your ruler and push it down through your tape. Simply take your ruler and press it down through or against your attic insulation. Then watch how far the ruler goes before it hits the bottom of your insulation.
2. Repeat the first step in several different places in your attic. It is important that your attic is properly (and evenly) insulated throughout the attic area. Be sure to check a few different locations to make sure your attic is evenly insulated.
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3. Multiply the depth of your attic insulation by the appropriate R-value. If your attic is filled with cellulose insulation, you would multiply the depth by 3.8. If insulated by fiberglass, multiply by 3.2. Now, take your number and compare it to the following chart to see if your attic is properly insulated.
If your attic is running low, consider having a local professional come in and add insulation to your home’s attic.
If you’re looking for more ways to make your home more energy efficient, be sure to check out our green home improvement projects: Green Living Ideas are, after all, a top 20 home improvement website!
Peter Young graduated from Pacific Lutheran University (PLU) with a degree in journalism and has made sustainability and environmental awareness a mainstay of his professional and personal life. It was during his time at PLU that he started his journey with sustainability and that is what led him to write for Green Living Ideas. He currently lives in Honolulu and works for Pono Home, an energy efficiency company focused on reducing carbon emissions and promoting a healthier, greener lifestyle. I am guilty of perpetuating a myth. Last month I wrote an article where I said to install insulation, “the voids are completely filled with as little compression as possible.” But is compression really such a bad thing? When I posted the same article on Green Building Advisor, commenter Dana Dorsett wrote, “Batt compression is fine (yielding higher R/inch due to higher density) as long as the cavity is completely filled.”
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He’s right. Compression is not the problem. An incompletely filled cavity is a problem. Gaps are a problem. But you can compress fiberglass insulation as much as you want. The North American Insulation Manufacturers Association (NAIMA) has a small two-page document on compressing fiberglass insulation (
When you compress fiber glass batt insulation the R-value per inch goes up, but the overall R-value goes down because you have fewer inches or thickness of insulation.
They include a general chart on how to figure out your R-value at different compression levels. Owens Corning also has a compression chart for R-values (
So you don’t get the full R on the label, but the insulation still works fine if all you do is compress it.
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This is something you may not know. A standard R-19 fiberglass batt is 6.25″ thick. If you put that batt against a closed 2×6 wall it will be compressed 0.75″ because the 2×6 is 5.5″ deep. That means a batt labeled R-19 actually gives you R-18 in a closed cavity.
One place where you will always end up with compression is around windows. If you use support rods in the cracks around the window and then fill in the remaining space with gaped fiberglass, “it’s nearly impossible to squeeze ‘too much’ fiberglass in, without using a hammer!” That’s what Dana Dorsett wrote in her GBA comments to me.
Others are behind the electrical junction box. If you installed the fiberglass properly, you will need to cut notches in the insulation surrounding the junction box. You can then take that little rectangle of insulation and place it in the space between the junction box and the outer casing. You don’t have to worry about removing some of the insulation so you can do without compression. Just put the whole piece back in there and let it compress.
Blown In Insulation: What You Need To Know
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Any cookies which may not be strictly necessary for the functioning of the website and are used specifically to collect user personal data through analytics, advertisements, other embedded content are referred to as non-necessary cookies. It is mandatory to obtain user consent before running these cookies on your website. Just as a hat and coat provide insulation for your body against the cold, attic insulation does the same for your home.
When your home isn’t properly sealed and insulated, cold air moves in and hot air escapes, making your heating system work harder and your home less comfortable. Sealing and insulating your home effectively can cut your heating and cooling costs by an average of 15 percent.
R Value (insulation)
Your attic is one of the first places you should consider insulation, especially since most homes don’t have sufficient attic insulation.
Insulation is rated by its R-value — the higher the R-value, the greater the insulating power. If you live in a temperate climate, your attic insulation should have a minimum rating of R-38, or about 13–14 inches of insulation. If you live in a colder climate, aim for a minimum R-49 rating, or about 16–18 inches of insulation.
How can you tell if your attic needs more insulation? As a general rule, if you go into the attic and can see ceiling joists on the attic floor, there isn’t enough insulation.
If you live in an older home, make sure the wiring is in good condition as well. If not, the cable must be replaced before adding insulation.
How Much Attic Insulation Do I Need?
There are two types of insulation you can place in an attic floor: batt or roll insulation (also known as blanket) and blow or loose insulation. Inflatable insulation requires special equipment to install but fills spaces better than batt or roll insulation, which can leave gaps without careful placement around ceiling joists, vents, and other obstructions.
Insulation is most often made of fiberglass, cellulose or mineral wool. Many energy advisers recommend blown cellulose insulation for its superior coverage, high R-value and air-sealing capabilities. Blown cellulose insulation is treated with boric acid, which acts as a flame retardant and insect repellant.
Energy Efficiency Start With a Home Energy Audit To Save Learn where your home is losing energy and what you can do to save money
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Inch Wide Roll Insulation At Lowes.com
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