Attic Insulation and Your Energy Bills

The Critical Role Attic Insulation Plays in Your Energy Bills

The Critical Role Attic Insulation Plays in Your Energy BillsEveryone wants a home that is comfortable and healthy, as well as one that doesn’t cost a fortune to heat and cool.   Depending on the project, foam insulation can reduce the tons of cooling required by 50% and BTU’s required to heat your home by 2/3!

Attic insulation is one of the major ways that homeowners can control energy costs while keeping their families comfortable.

Chances are that your attic has some type of insulation, but I’m betting that you have no idea how old that insulation is.

How long does insulation last anyway? Does it depend on the type of material that was used? How often should I replace the insulation in my attic?

What Type of Insulation You Have Matters

The lifespan of your attic’s insulation will depend on several factors, the first of which is the type of material that was used.

Common types of attic insulation include:

  • This is the pink (occasionally yellow) stuff that looks like spun cotton. Fiberglass has been a popular choice for decades, easy to install, isn’t very expensive. Most fiberglass insulation, however, becomes damaged at some point due to insects, animals, or water damage. If your insulation was installed more than 15 years ago, you should have a home inspection to see if it is still viable. It also is problematic that every contractor who has done work in your attic has moved the fiberglass and not replaced it.
  • This is typically ground-up paper products. The estimated lifespan of cellulose is 20 to 30 years. When using any fiberous insulation, the first step is to air seal all the penetrations in the floor of the attic, at the plates and any by passes. Cellulose is eco-friendly and it is more effective at stopping air flow, cellulose is frequently added as a supplementary insulation type, usually being added on top of or beneath other types of insulation.
  • Mineral Wool. This is another popular type of home insulation and its lifespan will vary depending on what type of wool this is (slag wool, rock wool, glass wool, etc.) Most experts will tell you that mineral wool will last for at least 20 years, however, water leaks or animal/insect infestation will dramatically reduce its lifespan.
  • Spray Foam. One of the most durable, reliable, and effective forms of home insulation, spray foam can last the life of the home (or perhaps longer!) Spray foam does not hold moisture, is super mildew resistant, insects, and animals! Spray foam will never need replacing since it does not degrade or wear out.

What type of insulation your home has often depends on the age of your home. If you aren’t sure what type of insulation you might have and/or what condition it’s in, you should contact the experts at Chicago Green.

Signs Your Insulation Is Failing

On occasion, you don’t even need someone to inspect your home to know that the insulation is no longer doing the job.

  1. You have a hard time getting your home to just the right temperature and then keeping it comfortable. The house is always too hot or too cold.
  2. The temperature in your home changes constantly.
  3. You are dealing with frequent moisture issues, such as mold, condensation, or frequent leaks.
  4. The house feels drafty.
  5. Family members suffer from allergies or illnesses that seem to get worse when they are at home. (Damaged, aging or degrading insulation is the perfect breeding ground for bacteria, mold, and other allergens)
  6. One or two rooms have drafty conditions or are very hot (or very cold)
  7. Your energy bills increase every year (KW or Therms, not just dollars spent)
  8. You are having problems with insects, raccoons, mice, rats, etc.
  9. You can see that at least part of the current insulation is wet, breaking down, thin, etc.

If your home is experiencing any of the above issues, it makes an inspection and replacement of your failing insulation a more urgent need.

Closed-cell is more expensive, but this investment will pay off in lower energy bills due to the higher R-value per inch.

The History of Your Home Matters

We have a great many older and historic homes in the Chicago area, many of which are using either very old or very low-quality insulation.

In some instances, we’ve seen insulation that was improperly installed. While homeowners can install new insulation over the decades, it’s been my experience that the longer a house has been standing, the greater the possibility that the insulation is either completely worn out or it’s been compromised via water/rodents/insects and needs to be replaced.  Additionally homes built in Chicago in the past 30 years also have ZERO insulation because the building department did not start doing residential building insulation inspections until 2020!  For these masonry homes many have .75” furring strips attached to the masonry with drywall mounted directly to the furring strips.

Why Your Home Needs Spray Foam Insulation

Spray foam insulation improves both the efficiency and comfort of your home.

Depending on the type of home you have, we will use either closed-cell or open-cell spray foam.

Open-cell spray foam has a lower R-value than closed-cell but it is also about 50 percent less expensive per inch. Since this type of spray foam has a lower R-value, we need to spray on a thicker layer. This is why you will find many attics, floors, ceilings using open cell at the appropriate depth, and crawl spaces that will use closed-cell.

Closed-cell is more expensive, but this investment will pay off in lower energy bills due to the higher R-value per inch. Closed-cell foam is hard which means that it can provide 200% increased structural integrity to your building when applied to walls and ceilings.

Spray foam resists heat transfer and provides an air seal at every gap, no matter how small. It’s also an excellent sound barrier!

Call Chicago Green Today!

As I always say, comfort is just a FOAM call away!

Why not call the friendly experts at Chicago Green Spray Foam Insulation today for a free estimate?

We will be happy to answer all your questions and explain where and how spray foam can work for your home.

Spray foam insulation will save you money on your energy bills, winter and summer, as well as keep every room in your house comfortable and clean.

Call Chicago Green today for expert solutions and friendly service!


About the Author, Tom Decker

With ten years of experience selling spray foam insulation in Chicago, Tom Decker is THE person to call and the Chicago Green Insulation is the organization to hire when you are looking for top notch quality and performance as well as someone who can deal with the needs of code officials, home owners and general contractors. Call the others in Chicago, if you are interested in the cheapest price, call Chicago Green Insulation if you are interested in using your dollars to make Chicago a better city for all of us!

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