Insulation in Your Attic from Angie’s List

The insulation of your home, along with the sealing of air leaks and
drafts, can help you save up to 20 percent on heating and cooling costs each
year.

A poorly
insulated attic can decrease your home's energy efficiency, leading to
increased utility bills. It can also boost humidity, causing mold growth, rot
and animal infestations.

Angie's List, the nation's leading provider of consumer
reviews
, asked highly
rated insulation companies to weigh in.

  • Do I have enough? When you look at your attic, the
    insulation should appear voluminous and fluffy. The more the insulation settles
    over time, the more it loses its effectiveness. If the insulation looks flat
    and deflated, or it doesn't rise over your floor joists, you might need more.
    For the best assessment, consider having an energy audit in which infrared
    technology can detect gaps in insulation.
  • What type of insulation? Most homeowners use either loose
    insulation made from fiberglass or cellulose, spray foam insulation, or rolls,
    batts and blankets made from mineral fibers such as fiberglass and rock wool.
    One advantage of spray foam insulation is it can reach the nooks and crannies
    of your attic where other types of insulation might be difficult to apply.
  • What is R value? Attic insulation is classified into
    different R values, which measure thermal resistance. The higher the R value,
    the better the insulation.
  • Check it often: Since insulation can deteriorate, have
    it checked periodically to make sure it remains efficient.

Angie's
List Tips: Hiring an insulation company

  • Hire help: Adding insulation to your attic
    yourself is dangerous. You may step through the ceiling or fall through
    it. A reputable contractor also has the knowledge of what type of
    insulation should be used for your home based on your climate and region.
  • Ask to see the R-value:
    You can find the
    R-value printed on bags or on labels attached to bags of insulation –
    always ask the contractor to see the bags that will be used.
  • Know your options: Regulation requires contractors to
    provide consumers with a fact sheet including insulation information on
    the products they sell. 
  • Check certifications: Ask if the contractor certified by
    the Insulation Contractors Association of America (ICAA). These
    contractors have access to training regarding proper installation and are
    familiar with codes and regulations.
  • What is the cost? Most insulation companies charge by
    a home's square footage.
  • Read the contract: The contract should include the job
    specification, cost, warranty information, and method of payment. The
    contract should also spell out the type of insulation, where it will be
    used and its R-value. Beware of contracts that list the insulation in
    terms of thickness – the R-value tells how well a material insulates, not
    the thickness.
  • Tax credits available: Congress reinstated the energy
    efficiency home improvement tax credits this year, and eligible homeowners can
    claim up to $500 in tax credits that had expired at the end of 2011. The
    credit is eligible for homeowners who have added Energy Star-rated home
    improvement items, including insulation, to their homes last year or plan
    to do so this year. Those who have not used any energy tax credits in the
    past would be eligible for the full $500. Homeowners who have used $300 in
    credits dating back to 2006, for example, would still be eligible for
    $200. Homeowners are advised to contact their accountant to see what
    qualifies as energy efficient and whether they are eligible for the
    credit.