It doesn't matter what kind of climate you live in, attic insulation is important for keeping your family comfortable and your energy bills low. If you live in a cold climate, you probably know just how much heat a poorly-insulated attic can lose. This leads to a constantly cold house and shocking heating bills in the winter months. If you live in a hot climate, however, insulation is still important. A layer of insulation will keep cold air where you want it - in your home. So how do you know how much insulation is enough?
Determine how much insulation you have
This Old House recommends that homes in warm-weather states be insulated to R-38, while colder states should go up to R-49 to keep heat in through the winter. It can be difficult to tell what kind of insulation you have without a professional, but the most common kinds are blown-in loose cellulose, which provides R-3.5 per inch, blown-in loose fiberglass, R-2.5 per inch or fiberglass batts, R-3.2 per inch.
If you have a new or recently built home, you may be able to find insulation information from the builder. If not, a home inspection professional can determine how much insulation you have and what type of insulation is present. This information can be used to determine whether it would be cost effective to add more insulation, and how many years it would be before you recouped the expenditure. In an older house, adding insulation will commonly pay for itself within just a few years, according to Energy.gov.
It is possible to add insulation to your attic yourself. This will cut down on costs, which will reduce the length of time it will take to make back your money in energy expenses. You don't even need to use the same type of insulation that is already present in your attic, though Energy Star recommends that if you choose loose-fill over fiberglass batts you go with a professional, as they will have the necessary materials and know-how.
When you're laying fiberglass batts, it is crucial to remember to wear protective clothing, gloves, eye protection and especially a dust mask to prevent contact with the glass fibers. Also, use an un-faced batt in an attic, because the paper or foil covering on a faced batt will trap moisture in your ceiling. Lay batts perpendicular to joists so that you don't compress the insulation that is already present between them, and make sure to not to cover can lights.
Congratulations! Once you've finished adding your insulation, make sure to get a home inspection to ensure that your attic is up to fire safety code and your insulation is properly installed.