Will Insulating My Attic Keep My House Cooler?

Inadequate Attic Insulation

A properly insulated attic can benefit your home in many ways, beside just keeping the home at a comfortable temperature year round.

The short answer, yes, insulating the attic is an effective way to keep your home cooler during the summer months. While it’s a given that the insulation in your attic will keep the home warmer during the winter, it isn’t immediately obvious that insulation can also help to keep the home comfortable during the summer. 

Why Attic Insulation Is Important

Insulation in the home, and especially the attic, acts to regulate home temperature and take the pressure off of your A/C and Heating systems. In the winter, this means trapping and absorbing the heat from the home's heating system and keeping the warmth from escaping out into the chilly outdoors. In summer, however, insulation functions to keep the cold air in, and the hot air contained to the attic, where it rises naturally due to “The Stack Effect”. 

The Stack Effect works like this: as gases like oxygen heat up, they naturally expand and rise to the highest possible point as their density decreases. This is why, if you’ve ever been up to your attic or the top floor of a house on a hot summer day, you’ll notice a marked temperature difference as you head up--no matter how much you run the A/C. With the sun beating down on the roofing all day long, the air inside will heat up over time, making the rest of the home uncomfortable.  However, if the attic space is properly insulated, that hot air won’t get a chance to escape and elevate the overall temperature of your home. 

In the end, attic insulation not only helps to keep you warm in the winter; it also helps to keep the whole home cooler in the hot and sticky summer months. 

How Attic Insulation Works

Insulation Installation

Attic insulation works to keep the home comfortable year round!

Attic insulation works to absorb the heat being produced by your heating systems during the winter months, and conversely, it can keep the hot air from spreading through the home from the attic, where you’ll notice the highest spike of heat in the day during the summer. This allows you to run your air conditioning more cost efficiently while also lowering your output of harmful gases into the atmosphere.

There are three ways that heat travels: radiation, conduction and finally, convection. Attic insulation helps trap this heat in the many ways it can travel. This can be explained quite simply: 

  • With Conduction, heat travels through an object or material, like body heat being retained within a down jacket that helps to keep you warm on a very cold day. This is also the way that heat spreads through the home in the hot summer months, as the sun beats down on the roof and slowly heats up the air within.

  • With Convection, heat travels through the air. In many types of insulation, there is quite a lot of air within the material, helping to trap and keep the heat. A good example of convection heat transfer would be radiators in older homes--which function by pushing hot water through standing metal heating apparatuses that then warm the room over time.

  • With Radiation, heat emanates from a specific source. It’s the same way that a fire heats a room, or a wood stove--and the same way that the sun warms the earth! 

It can sometimes be difficult to know exactly what insulation to choose for your home, which is why it’s always recommended that you reach out to a professional in your area for an evaluation and estimate of the attic to best decide, together, what attic insulation material will suit you and your home’s needs best. 

The Benefits Of Attic Insulation In The Summer

There are numerous benefits to adding attic insulation to your home besides just helping to keep the home cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter, including: 

  • Increased Energy Efficiency--By nature of their construction, our homes have tiny gaps and cracks in the building material that inadvertently allow outside air into the home, and for indoor air to escape. This causes your home’s cooling systems to have to work harder to compensate, and often you’re still left with hot and uncomfortable areas of the home, especially if it’s older construction and a multi level home. Insulation acts to fill and block off these cracks and gaps that have a negative effect on the home’s overall energy efficiency. An added benefit: Along with a cooler home in the summer, you’ll notice a significant decrease in your energy bills and more money to devote to summer fun! 

  • Increased Home Value--If you’ve been thinking of listing your home, checking in on your attic insulation could be a good first step. A properly insulated home generally goes for more on the market, allowing you to earn back what you invest. As an added benefit, you’ll prolong the lifespan of your roof, and save on future maintenance costs!

  • Helps To Protect The Planet--When you run heating and cooling systems in a home without proper insulation, they have to work twice as hard. This expels harmful chemicals into the atmosphere, increasing the risk of damage to the planet. By properly insulating your home, you decrease the amount that your home’s systems have to work to regulate the temperature, thereby decreasing the amount of chemicals released. 

  • Helps To Improve Indoor Air Quality--When insulation fills or blocks off the tiny gaps and cracks in your home that lead to the outdoors, it doesn’t just help to keep the house cooler in summer--it also prevents potential allergens and toxins from entering the home. Many different pollutants could enter the home from outside, especially during the summer, such as mold, radon, and smoke. Adding attic insulation can help to greatly decrease the amount of these irritants that enter the home. 

Of course, there are many more benefits to attic insulation, all year round. Reach out to a local attic insulation contractor to learn more. 

Other Factors That Play a Role in Attic Insulation Efficiency

Proper R-Value

Making sure that the attic insulation is at the correct R-value is essential to the proper insulation of an attic.

Besides attic insulation, there are plenty of other things that can influence your attic’s overall energy efficiency. Ensuring that the attic insulation has the proper R-value, that insulation is placed in all the proper areas, the installation of an attic hatch cover,and even air sealing. 

R-value is the capacity of an insulating material to resist heat flow, with the higher the r-value the higher the insulating power of the material. According to the Department of Energy, the R-value of your insulating material should be at least R-30, with thicker layers of insulation reaching higher R-values.

 The attic hatch is a large hole in the attic floor with a door and an attached, retractable ladder for easy access to the attic space, is a common feature in many homes across the world. Usually, access to the attic is through one of these, but the gaps around the attic door frame can cause air to leak through. An attic hatch cover, which can either come as a zip-up cover or a removable board, helps block additional air leakage between your attic door and its frame.

Ensuring that insulation has been placed in all the right locations, such as around any ducts, the attic floor, ceiling, and knee-walls to properly cover the attic space, and investing in air sealing(an injectable foam that fills cracks and gaps in the home to block airflow) will also guarantee that your attic will achieve the highest possible level of energy efficiency!

Keep Your Home Comfortable This Summer with Attic Insulation 

Well Insulated Attic

Reach out for a free attic insulation consultation from Attic Systems, today!

This summer, invest in proper attic insulation and enjoy the many benefits of energy efficiency for your home and family. Improve the quality of the air in your home, relieve the stress from your AC units and be more comfortable in your home through the hot summer months with attic insulation!

Attic Systems is a network of highly trained and experienced attic insulation contractors who can help make your home more comfortable and energy efficient. To get started, find your local Attic Systems contractor and claim your free, no obligation estimate