Attic Insulation FAQ
- What does R-Value mean?
Insulation’s R-value is a standardized measurement for its ability to repel heat flow. A higher R value is indicative of greater insulating power.
- What is the difference between fiberglass and cellulose insulation?
Cellulose insulation is comprised of recycled wastepaper fires, and is therefore environmentally friendly. Cellulose insulation saves heating and cooling energy expenditures, requires less energy to produce than traditional insulation and saves paper. Further, the typical amount of cellulose insulation required for a 1,500 square-foot home recycles 40 years’ worth of newsprint for a single individual. Because cellulose is comprised predominately of newspaper, various additives present in the newspaper have a fire-resistant property. While there is some speculation about cellulose insulation’s fire resistance, it meets all government safety standards. Fiberglass also has a high content of recycled material, and is in fact the greatest consumer of recycled glass. Fiberglass is naturally fire resistant, and this, along with a comparable price to that of cellulose insulation, has made fiberglass to become the most popular home insulation material.
- My house is very noisy. Is there anything that can be done to decrease the noise?
Installation of fiberglass batt or cellulose insulation in your home’s interior walls can reduce noise levels. This is best achieved during the building process before drywall is installed. When sound waves pass through insulation, the energized air comes into contact with the insulation, passing some of their energy into the insulation. Therefore, when the sound waves reach the other side of the wall, some of the energy (and therefore volume) has been depleted. Bathrooms, media rooms, bedrooms, studies, home offices and between floors of the home are popular areas for sound control
- What areas of my home should be insulated?
Insulation is for more than just outside walls and attics. It should also be installed in the following places:
- Ceilings with unheated spaces
- Floors located above vented crawl spaces or unheated garages or porches
- Cathedral ceilings
- Knee walls
- Between interior walls, ceilings and floors for improved sound control
- What is Payback and return on investment in insulation?
Insulation is an excellent long-term investment, as there is no risk of problems with your installation and no required maintenance. Insulation continues to save you energy year after year. Consider other ways to cut back on your energy bills. For example, solar panels and windmills require maintenance, and have a higher cost-benefit curve in comparison to insulation. Similarly, wood pellet prices may increase, and used fry oil may not always be free or available. These alternative means of energy savings can be good investments, but are far less stable than insulation.
- How much insulation do I need in my attic?
There is no precise answer, as it is dependent upon your home’s specific needs. Some homes or commercial buildings require more insulation than others for various reasons. The Toronto building code minimum is R-40, but will likely be increased to R-50 in the near future. We also recommend R-50 for rural residents, who are more likely to experience adverse weather conditions. The R-50 range will provide the most return on your investment. Higher ratings, say an R-70, cost considerably more but do not bring proportionately increased benefits in comparison to R-50. Once you reach a rating of R-40 or R-50, warm air finds other outlets in or out of your home.
- What does insulation actually do for my home?
Insulation keeps your home warm in the winter and cooling in the summer by resisting the flow of heat. Heat is a form of energy, and therefore always seeks colder air, flowing into the home in the summer and out of the home in the winter. A properly insulated home reduces heat flow, decreasing energy flow for heating and cooling. Additionally, cellulose insulation absorbs sound, so reduces transmission of sound between rooms or from the outdoors. Because today’s environments are noise-laden, many homeowners are now opting to soundproof their homes. A well-insulated home increases your home’s comfort and resale value. Whether your home is new or old, re-insulating pays off.
- How do I know if my home needs insulation?
You should consider re-insulating your home if you experience any of the following:
• Drafty walls
• Ice dams
• High energy bills
• Attic moisture
• Constant operation of your furnace or A/C unit.
- Do I need to Insulate My Home?
Your home’s insulation may need to be upgraded in the following situations:
- Older homes with original insulation. Of homes built prior to 1980, only 20% are adequately insulated.
- If you are frequently cold in the winter or hot in the summer. Improved insulation allows for a more uniform temperature and increased comfort.
- If you build a new home, addition to your home, or install new siding or roofing. If your energy bills are too high for your home’s size.
- If you are frequently disturbed by outdoor noises. An added benefit of adequate insulation is that it muffles sound.