You likely purchased your home because it ticked all of your boxes. Maybe it had space for a pool in the backyard, a perfect playroom for the kids, or brand new kitchen appliances. But when you were house-hunting, how many attics did you peer into?
If your energy bills are balk-worthy (especially in the summer), the problem may be right under your nose—or right over your head. If your attic isn’t insulated (or if the attic insulation is past its prime), you could be losing money on your utility bills and unnecessarily sacrificing your comfort.
But, is the cost of insulating your attic space (or replacing the insulation that’s already there) worth it? When considering attic insulation costs vs. savings, the simple answer is yes. To learn more about why you should insulate your attic, let’s explore how exactly attic insulation can reduce your household costs.
How Will Attic Insulation Save You Money?
There are several ways that insulating your attic can lead to significant savings. While reduced energy costs and improved HVAC system efficiency are the primary aims of proper attic insulation, an equally important cost-saving impact of new insulation is keeping pests out of your home.
Reduced Energy Costs
Before we get to everyone’s favorite topic—pest control—let’s explore the most widely known benefit of attic insulation.
A reduction in energy costs is one of the most significant ways that attic insulation will impact your household costs. By adding a layer of insulation (whether it’s brand new, supplemental, or a replacement) to your attic, you increase your home’s R-value.
R-value, or “resistance value,” is a quantitative measurement of your home’s resistance to heat transfer. By adding insulation to your attic, you can prevent hot air from transferring from your attic into your air-conditioned home. This, in turn, has the following effects:
- When insulation works effectively, it keeps hot air in your attic. As a result, your HVAC system doesn’t have to work as hard to keep the inside of your home cool. This helps ensure your system’s longevity.
- The less your HVAC system runs, the less electricity it uses, and the less money you spend on your energy bill.
And, of course, a reduction in energy use will make your home even more energy-efficient. Adding insulation to your attic will trim the fat from your energy bill and your carbon footprint.
Increased Pest Resistance
In addition to decreasing your energy bill (and increasing your home’s energy efficiency), a fresh layer of insulation can also keep pests out of your home. If you’re looking to get rid of rats in your attic, new insulation can help.
The three most common rodents found in American households—Norway rats, roof rats, and house mice—spread diseases, make noises that can impact sleep, and destroy your home.1 While you can eliminate your unwanted tenants using traps and poison, these can be difficult to maintain and dangerous to your family’s furry friends.
During both first-time insulation installations and full replacements, insulation contractors clear all pests and pest debris from your attic before rodent-proofing the space. Attic rodent-proofing is worth every penny saved in pest control, pest prevention, and repairs to your home’s structural elements, especially when you consider that rodents love insulation. Old insulation provides a perfect medium for burrowing, and once rodents have found a way into your attic, it can be hard to completely evict them.
However, with a new attic insulation installation, you can kill two birds—err, rats—with one stone: Insulation contractors will rodent-proof your attic to prevent further infestations before installing new insulation.
Let’s Run the Numbers
Proper attic insulation will save you money—in energy costs and pest control efforts—theoretically. But for the math-oriented among us, we’ve detailed a few energy cost scenarios below.
Each scenario only considers attic insulation energy savings, since it’s hard to generalize money spent on pest control, prevention, and restoration efforts. But, the evidence to support financial benefit in the attic insulation cost vs. savings lies in reduced energy costs alone.
Scenario 1: The First-Time Homeowner
According to the EPA, it’s estimated that homeowners can save an average of 15% on their utility bills after adding insulation to their homes.2 In California, one person uses an average of 572 kilowatt-hours (kWh) per month and pays an average price of $0.2245 per kWh.3
With those figures in mind, let’s explore the savings potential for the first-time homeowner who is looking to replace old insulation.
In a home in California with two residents, the average yearly energy cost would be $3,081.94. This breaks down like so:
- 2 residents x 572kWh/month = 1,144kWh/month
- 1,144kWh x $0.2245/kWh = $256.83/month
- $256.83/month x 12 months = $3,081.94/year
But, with new attic insulation, this home could see a 15% reduction in yearly energy costs, averaging $462.29.
With an extra $462.29 in their pockets, the two residents of this home could invest in further home improvement projects or purchase a new appliance. Additionally, increased energy efficiency would add value to their home for years to come, resulting in additional profits if they chose to sell in the future.
Scenario 2: The Family Home
With more people comes more energy usage. For families of four living in average-sized California homes, energy costs represent a significant portion of monthly bills:
- 4 residents x 572kWh/month = 2,288kWh/month
- 2,288kWh x $0.2245/kWh = $513.66/month
- $513.66/month x 12 months = $6,163.87/year
Even with two full-time incomes, spending over $500 a month to keep the lights on is a hefty price to pay. The average family could reduce their energy costs by:
- Decreasing their washing machine, dryer, and kitchen appliance usage
- Watching less TV
- Convincing their kids to cut down on their cell phone charging
But, attic insulation could significantly reduce their energy bills without disrupting their quality of life. With an average savings of 15%, a family of four could save $924.58 each year after installing new insulation in their attic.
An extra $900 a year to spend on groceries, clothes, or school supplies would make an enormous difference for working families. Installing attic insulation would keep the average Californian family of four cooler and give them some extra spending money.
Types of Attic Insulation
Attics can be insulated with a variety of different materials, but the most common and effective options are:
- Fiberglass, which is made of extremely fine glass fibers
- Cellulose, which is created from recycled paper products4
These materials are then formed into one of the following:
- Batts – Also called rolls, batt insulation is cut to fit between each joist in your attic space.
- Loose-fill – Also called blown-in, this insulation is installed with a specialized blower system.
Let’s explore those two types in more detail.
Even if you didn’t know what it was called until now, batt insulation is the most well-known variety.
- This type of insulation is cut into sheets, rolled up, and unrolled between joists during installation.
- It’s sometimes sold in home improvement stores since it’s the most accessible type of insulation for DIY renovation projects and doesn’t require any special equipment to install.
But, despite not needing any specialized equipment, insulation installers are highly trained to place batting insulation for optimal efficiency and effectiveness. This means making sure that the insulation covers as much of the attic as possible.
The construction trade has been using batts for generations. If you’re in an older home and peek into your attic, you’ll most likely see batting insulation.
Both batting and blown-in insulation require installation by trained professionals to ensure optimal performance. But unlike batting insulation, blown-in insulation also requires special equipment. In fact, this type of loose-fill insulation is known as blown-in insulation because it requires a specialized blower system for insulation.
To install this insulation, a professional will send a long tube up into the attic to disperse the insulation between the floor joists, ensuring that every nook and cranny of the attic floor is thoroughly covered.
Blown-in insulation can provide excellent coverage for:
- Attics with obstructions (such as air handlers)
- Attics with existing insulation
- Loose-fill will settle a bit after installation. But, unlike batts, (where thickness is one of the most important variables in determining insulation R-values), the resistance of heat flow from the attic into your home isn’t directly proportional to the thickness of blown-in insulation.5
Since determining R-value isn’t the most straightforward calculation, relying upon a professional insulation installer to help you choose the best insulation option for your home is paramount. They can assess your needs, your home’s condition, and your budget to find the best product for insulating your attic.
Attic Insulation: A Great Choice for All Seasons
Installing attic insulation can increase your home’s energy efficiency, reduce your energy bill, keep pests out, and improve your quality of life.
And at Attic Construction, quality is what we do. We’ve been using high-quality materials, providing outstanding work, and ensuring unmatched customer service since our inception in 2011. Whether your attic doesn’t have any insulation, you think your insulation might need to be replaced, or you suspect your insulation has become a rodent habitat, we’re here to help.
With improved HVAC system performance and a lower energy bill, there’s no question in the attic insulation cost vs. savings debate: By installing new attic insulation, you’ll do your finances (and everyone in your home) a favor.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Chapter 4: Disease Vectors and Pests. https://www.cdc.gov/nceh/publications/books/housing/cha04.htm
- Energy Star. Why Seal and Insulate? https://www.energystar.gov/campaign/seal_insulate/why_seal_and_insulate
- US Energy Information Administration. Electric Power Monthly. https://www.eia.gov/electricity/monthly/epm_table_grapher.php?t=epmt_5_6_a
- US Department of Energy. Insulation Materials. https://www.energy.gov/energysaver/insulation-materials
- US Department of Energy. How Insulation Works. https://www.energy.gov/energysaver/insulation