Whether you’re trying to beat the heat in the summer or keep warm in the winter, your attic insulation is a critical part of your home climate control. Quality attic insulation is particularly important in Portland, Oregon, due to the fact that the weather can vary so widely over the course of the year. If you’re thinking about putting new insulation in your home or just want to evaluate the insulation you already have, you’ll want to be able to make an informed choice. Here are the basics of what you need to know about attic insulation in Portland, Oregon.
How Insulation Works
Before you jump headfirst into any changes to your insulation, it’s worth knowing what it’s there for in the first place. The answer might seem obvious: it’s there to insulate your home. But how exactly does insulation help maintain the temperature of your home? In the most basic of terms, insulation helps contain the air your HVAC system is heating or cooling and prevents any heat exchange with the outdoor temperature.
In the summer it provides a shield from the relentless heat of the sun, allowing your air conditioner to keep your home cool with less energy. In the winter it prevents warm air from escaping into the attic, stopping you from losing valuable heat to the chilly outdoors. Many beautiful old homes also have drafty attics with poor insulation. If you’re not careful, your attic can make your home a climate control nightmare.
What to Look for in Any Current Insulation
If you already have some attic insulation, you’re ahead of the game. That being said, you need to be able to evaluate what you have to see if it’s still doing its job. Before you decide if you need any work done, take a look at what you already have. All you need to do is determine what material your insulation is made of and how deep it is, and you’ll be able to figure out how resistant to heat flow it is. This rating is known as its R-value.
If any of your attic insulation is moldy, damp, or compressed, it’s just not working anymore. Mold and dampness can indicate a leak in the roof, a serious problem that demands the help of a professional. If your home was built before 1990, take extra care when examining your insulation, as you might be dealing with asbestos. Get the material tested before pulling anything up, and have an expert remove and dispose of it safely.
Know What Materials Work Best for You
There are plenty of different materials available when it comes to attic insulation, but not every material is going to work for each individual home. Insulation can come in a few different forms, such as loose-fill, batt, or spray-foam. They can all be made of various materials, such as mineral wool, fiberglass, or cellulose. Each kind has its own pluses and negatives, so you’ll need to take stock of what you’re working with before committing. When trying to decide what form and material are right for your home, you should consider the target R-value, layout of your attic, and cost.
The Department of Energy recommends different R-values for different climates, so you’ll need to be sure you’re choosing a material that meets the standard for attic insulation in Portland, Oregon. For temperate climates like the Pacific Northwest, you’re shooting for an R-value of R-38. With that in mind, take a look at the actual space of your attic. If the joists are laid out in with standard spacing and there are minimal obstructions, batt insulation will work just fine. For attics with a more irregular layout, you may need to use loose fill to insulate every nook and cranny.
The available space can also affect the R-value of your insulation, as some materials require a certain number of inches of insulation before reaching the desired value. Loose fill requires fewer inches in general than batt to achieve higher R-values, so if you’re working in a cramped and uneven space, you might not have much of a choice.
Finally, that brings us to the cost. Spray-foam insulation is one of the most effective methods of insulation, but it’s also one of the most expensive to install. Batt insulation, by contrast, is much cheaper but requires more material to achieve the same R-value. Once you’ve determined your desired R-value, you can do the math to determine what material and method of insulation makes sense for you.
It Helps You Save on Your Heating Bill
More effective insulation might be more expensive up-front, but did you know it can lead to savings down the road? When you properly seal and insulate your house, the internal temperature becomes more stable. That means your HVAC system won’t be fighting the elements as much, allowing it to maintain your desired temperature with lower energy usage and less wear and tear on the system. That leaves you with a lower heating bill, as well as lower maintenance costs for the HVAC system. Between both, your new insulation can pay for itself.
You Can Get Money Back from the State
The Pacific Northwest is widely known for being an environmentally conscious part of the country. This green mentality is so ingrained in the population that you can even earn cash rebates for improving your household. Homeowners in Portland can receive money back for having attic insulation up to a certain R-value. If you can get your insulation to R-38, you can earn 25 cents per square foot of insulation as a rebate! This includes labor costs and can really take the sting out of paying for new attic insulation. On top of that, you’ll be doing your part to make our world just a bit greener.
Now that you have the basics, you can start thinking about the next steps. If you’re in the market for new insulation, give the Portland insulation experts here at Interstate Roofing a call to learn about all your options. We’ll help find the attic insulation solution that works best for you.