TAMPA - If you want to cut your home’s energy costs, take a look in your attic. 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. 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.
“Often times we only think of our attic as an extra place for storage," said Angie Hicks, founder of Angie’s List . "But it actually plays a key role in making sure you home is comfortable throughout the year.” Hicks adds, "Insulation can deteriorate over time so it’s important for you to check it periodically. A good rule of thumb is if you can see the floor joists, you don’t have enough insulation.”
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.
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.
Attic insulation is classified into different R values, which measure thermal resistance. The higher the R value, the better the insulation. Remember, tax credits are 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.
Angie’s List Tips: Hiring an insulation company
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