The U.S. Department of Energy estimates 44 percent of the energy used in an average house goes for heating and cooling. That puts a premium on insulation, to make sure the heating and cooling is most efficient. Types of insulation vary. Fiberglass batts are commonly used in walls, fiberglass panels (foamboards) are used in some areas and spray foam is a newer technique being used in some applications. The most common attic insulation, however, is blown-in, sometimes fiberglass material but most often cellulose, commonly made from old newspapers and in a loose form, like popcorn kernels.
Things You'll Need
- R-value table
- Tape measure
- Material cost per bag
- Equipment rental cost
Check your attic to see if any insulation is already installed. Determine the type and measure the thickness. Find out the recommended R value (for heat resistance) for your area; this will vary widely depending on locale and climate. Use a U.S. Department of Energy website to check for your area; R values for attics can range from R-10 in mild climates to R-49 in cold regions. Cost will depend on the amount and type of material needed.
Investigate suppliers. Website estimates generally run from 75 cents to $1 per square foot installed. Major building supply chains estimate costs for blown-in insulation at less than 30 cents per square foot for materials, but equipment must be rented for installation and those charges will vary widely with the locale and with the type of equipment used. Major building supply and rental chains all supply this equipment. Compare rental costs; also consider transportation of the equipment.
Measure the attic with a tape measure to determine how many square feet (length times width in feet) will need to be insulated. Most general estimates put the cost for an average home at $1,800 to $2,400, but that will vary widely with the amount of insulation needed and the size of the attic. Adding insulation to an attic which already has a thin layer will obviously be cheaper than filling an entire attic with new material. Determine how many square feet a bag of insulation will cover and calculate cost by dividing the square feet in the attic by the square feet a bag or material will cover. If a bag will cover 100 square feet and the attic is 1,200 square feet, it would take 12 bags; if a bag costs $30, that would total $360.
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