Attic insulation

Why not reduce heating costs with good insulation?

Why? because good insulation is expensive and hard to install.

There are several choices available to a homeowner regarding attic insulation, but none of them are easy. For example;

In terms of quick and easy installation, fiberglass batts are king. According to the folks at Handyman Magazine, Fiberglass batts are the cheapest, easiest way to insulate new walls. However, they’re often installed poorly—and even small gaps can reduce efficiency as much as 25 percent.

An issue I see is when fiberglass batts are used vertically, such as a skylight shaft. the heat leaves the house through the gaps between the batts and the 2×4(s), cooling off the wall inside the house. The moisture in the air condenses on the wall, and water drips down from the skylight. Some folks figure the skylight must be leaking, and spend a big bucket of cash on a new skylight, only to find water dripping the next time it’s cold outside and the air in the house is warm and moist. Like most of the year. 
1991 construction. Heat has been escaping from the gaps for 26 years

The solution? Easy. Install insulating panels over the fiberglass and studs. Any insulation contractor that’s been around for more than 15 minutes has done a BUNCH of these. Inter-NACHI (of which I am a proud member) has directions for folks who want to know how it’s done. Want to see? Click: Inter-National Association of Certified Home Inspectors

Loose fill fiberglass is a better choice. A little harder to install and itchy, but good. It is the choice of most new construction contractors.  To meet the current standard of R49, you will need 16.25 inches. It’s important that the insulation is spread evenly.

Along the same lines and environmentally greener is cellulose. It’s just ground up newspapers, boric acid for fire control, salt to discourage mice and mineral oil to make the boric acid and salt to stick to the newspapers.

That’s it.

One complaint about cellulose insulation is that it compresses over time. And that’s true. But it only compresses to a certain point, and is an effective vapor barrier. And putting more on top is easy.

According to Mike Holmes (yup, THAT Mike; Holmes on homes. Don’t you LOVE that guy? No? Huh.), the very best insulation is closed cell spray foam. Of course, it isn’t HIS dime. The stuff is pricey. Having said that, almost all of the insulation contractors use foam on the vertical portions in new construction.

Spray foam is probably a job for professionals. A typical application is performed by professional insulation contractors. The main components of a spray foam insulation system include a large spray truck, where the ingredients are heated and mixed. An air compressor, and a specially designed spray gun with hoses attached that run out to the spray truck. You can find kits in the $300 range at the home centers, and I would recommend them for small projects. A typical kit would probably be enough for a skylight shaft and rim joist insulation in the basement. Dow makes a kit that has good reviews. (I’m not making a  product endorsement here. This is the results of a quick Google search to explore options) Click: Foam sealant at Lowe’s