Energy costs are on the rise. Want to know the secret #1 way to reduce heating and cooling costs for your home? Our sales pitch is pretty short: warm air rises, which causes up to 85% of your home’s heat to escape through the attic. This means your heating unit cranks out a lot more heat trying to keep up, which is the cause for high gas bills in winter and high electric bills in the summer months. Adding attic insulation is one of the best ways to lower your home’s energy bills and one of the best investments you can make in a suburban Chicago home.

What Is Blown-In Attic Insulation?

Blown-in insulation (or ‘loose-fill’ insulation) is a fibrous insulating material that is installed by ‘blowing’ or spraying the material using a machine that breaks up the material and delivers it to the space in question via an air hose. An alternative to rolls, batts and foam board insulation, blown-in insulation is the preferred choice for covering large areas like home and garage attics and fills every gap and corner seamlessly. Attic insulation works by expanding to create many tiny air pockets that form an insulative layer.

Proper attic insulation blocks the flow of air through upper ceilings. However, many homes that were built to “normal” code standards (especially new construction) only have the minimally required amount of insulation, which, as evidenced by your presumably high heating bills, is just not getting the job done.

Read on to learn how to evaluate whether your home needs additional attic insulation.

How Much Insulation Do You Need?

A layer of material’s insulating capability is measured by a metric called “R-Value.” The higher the R-Value, the slower heat energy will escape through the layer of material.

For our Chicago climate, the Department of Energy recommends a total R-value of R49–R60. To achieve this range, we recommend filling up to a total depth of 20 inches (old insulation + new) and installing a cover over your attic entrance(s).

Installation Process

Adding blown-in fiberglass insulation to your attic is not as difficult as you may think. Our 2-man crew takes just 1-2 hours to complete most insulation projects. One person uses the blower hose to deploy the fiberglass insulation in the attic, and the other feeds bales of the ProCat fiberglass product into the blower unit in an outdoor location. The blower unit is a specialized piece of machinery that ‘fluffs up’ the compacted fiberglass material so that more air pockets are created when it is installed (better insulation), which is what makes it such an effective material. To finish the job, we install an insulated cover over the access hatch.

Fiberglass vs Cellulose

We recommend Owens Corning’s ProCat blown-in fiberglass insulation over cellulose alternatives for several reasons:

  • Fiberglass holds its form and doesn’t settle. To maintain the best R-value, blown-in insulation is used because it is designed not to settle. Fiberglass keeps its volume, as opposed to cellulose insulation, which will compact over time.

  • Helps prevent mold growth: fiberglass insulation does not support the growth of mold. However, it is important to make sure any existing mold is removed before adding insulation.

  • Fewer chemicals for your home: ProCat insulation, made of fiberglass, is naturally non-combustible. By comparison, cellulose insulation is made from wood pulp or paper shavings and is naturally flammable, and thus it requires up to 20% of flame retardant chemicals (and sometimes some insect repellant mixed in) to be suitable for construction. Or “kind of” suitable, in our opinion.

Cellulose insulation does technically offer a higher R- value per square inch at the time of installation, but cellulose settles over time, causing it to lose its insulating properties. Fiberglass will not settle. For this reason, along with the harsh chemical treatments added to cellulose (bad for the environment!) and its messy installation process in your home, we recommend blown-in fiberglass insulation as the best long-term choice.

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