Energy Tip: Do I need more attic insulation?
Most homes in the U.S. do not have enough insulation. An estimated 60% of homes do not meet the level of needed insulation to keep energy bills at their lowest. The odds are stacked against us, since more than half of all homes do not have proper attic insulation.
Here in Maryland we are always looking for ways to help stay cooler and reduce our homes energy costs. One area that could use improvement in many homes, especially older homes in the Maryland area is the attic insulation. Below is a guide to help determine if it would be financially advantageous to upgrade your attic insulation. The R values are estimates, different types of insulation have different R values per inch.
If your home was built before 1979 and the insulation has not been upgraded since then, you could probably save significantly by increasing the amount of insulation in your attic. During this time energy was cheap so insulation wasn’t much of a concern. When I’m doing home inspections in Maryland on homes this age, We typically find between 2 to 4 inches of insulation which is equal to about R-11 depending on the type of insulation installed.
If your home was built between 1979 and 1984 you could probably save moderately on your energy bill by adding insulation in your attic. Typically we find between 5 and 8 inches of insulation in the attic when doing home inspections in Maryland on homes this age, this is equal to approximately R-19 depending on the type of insulation installed.
If your home was built after 1984, your attic insulation probably still does not meets current standards. Adding insulation would probably still save on your energy bill. Typically on homes of this age we see anywhere from 8 to 14 inches of insulation which is from R-30 to R-38.
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, it’s all in the R value. (A number used to measure the resistance of heat flow a material has – the larger the number, the more resistant.) This number should be between 49 and 60 for attic insulation.
Estimated R values per inch for common types of insulation: