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Insulate Your Attic In 6 Steps

One of the best ways to save on your heating bill is to insulate your attic properly. Reliable estimates put the amount of heat lost through the attic at 40 percent. Most tract-built homes, particularly those built before 1980, have loose fill (blown-in) insulation with a very low R-value. R-value is the measure of how well the insulation prevents heat transfer. Determining the correct R-value required for your home is the key to effectively insulating your attic. Here is how to install batt insulation to help prevent heat loss and cut your heating bills.

  1. Determine the R-value you need. If you live in a cold climate or if you have an electric furnace, you will need R-49 insulation. For moderate to warm climates, R-38 insulation will be sufficient, and R-22 will be OK for homes in a warm climate with a gas furnace.
  2. Determine how much insulation you will need by measuring your attic space. Batt insulation comes in rolls, so measuring will determine how many rolls you need. The width of the rolls you purchase (15" or 23") will be determined by the distance between your ceiling joists.
  3. Gather all the tools you will need: a stepladder, straightedge, tape measure, utility knife, stapler, boards or plywood (laid across ceiling joists to sit or crawl on), a pole (for pushing insulation into hard-to-reach areas), and a work light. If you need to cut a roll, use your straightedge and utility knife. Lay the insulation paper or foil side down to cut.
  4. Lay the cut insulation between the ceiling joists or rafters, and staple it down. Do not mash the insulation down, because that will diminish the R-value. Make sure there are no gaps where two rolls of insulation butt together.
  5. Leave a 3" gap in the insulation near the eave vents and around any fixture that will generate heat (such as light fixtures).
  6. Finally, staple or glue insulation to the top of the attic access door as you exit the attic.

Remember to always use your boards to sit, crawl, or walk on. Step only on the boards or on the ceiling joists, because the ceiling sheet rock will not hold your weight. When you are finished, take a shower and wash the clothes you were wearing to get rid of the fiberglass shards you have picked up.