What’s the best way to save money on your energy bills? Hands down it has to be adding blown-in insulation to your attic. There are more complicated and expensive ways to save energy, but without a doubt the low cost and quick payback of adding blown-in insulation to your attic blows away (pun intended!) the competition.
How cheap is it? You can add 12″ of blown-in cellulose to an average sized house (1500-1800 SF) for between $600 and $800. And since the attic is one of the greatest sources of heat loss in the winter and heat gain in the summer, the savings can be realized year round.
Whats the ROI on adding blown-in insulation to your attic? Figuring a modest savings of 10% with average monthly energy bills of $200 per month that means it will have paid for itself in about 3 years! Compare that to the 41 years it takes to payback the cost of replacement windows and you can start to see how much of a big deal this really is.
How to Install Blow-in Insulation
The other great thing about blown-in insulation is how easy it is to install. Unlike spray foam or batt insulation, installation is a breeze. Yes, it’s annoying to crawl around in your attic for a day, but one day of work is definitely easier than the other options.
Home Depot has a great thing going where they will give you a FREE rental of a blower if you buy a certain amount of insulation. So, I went down to the Depot and picked up 50 bags of insulation and my free blower to help out a friend since installation is definitely a two-person job.
The video below details the whole process, but essentially one of us climbed into the hot abyss and started at the back of the attic blowing the insulation evenly across the attic floor (avoiding covering any soffit vents that would impede airflow) while the other person stayed downstairs and fed the blower with the bags of insulation.
Below I’ll give you some tips to help you be safe and get the most out of your insulation day.
Tip #1 Wear a Mask
We installed Green Fiber insulation which is a brand of cellulose blown-in. While this isn’t toxic, the blower creates a lot of airborne dust and you can get quite sick if you don’t protect yourself. Wear at least a P95 mask while working with stuff to avoid an early death or at the very least a stubborn cough.
Tip #2 Wear Safety Glasses
Do I even need to mention that if you are blowing materials at a high velocity out of the end of a hose you should have some eye protection on? Be smart and be safe.
Tip #3 Get Enough Hose
Take some rough measurements and make sure you have enough hose to reach the furthest recesses of your attic from you where you plan to stage the blower. The rental department will usually give you as much hose as you need if you ask for it at no extra charge.
Tip #4 Account For Settling
Blown-in insulation settles a couple inches after it is installed so take that into account. If you install 12″ you’ll only be left with about 10″ in a month when everything has settled. Over insulate because you don’t want to do this again. You can always return the extra insulation if you didn’t use it.
Tip #5 Allow Airflow
Do not cover up soffit vents or off-ridge vents in your attic. Blocking this airflow in traditional vented attics can cause moisture issues or overheating which will do more harm than if you hadn’t insulated at all.
Tip #6 Get Proper Lighting
Lighting in most attics is pretty shoddy so make sure you figure something out so you can get a good sense of where and how much insulation you are installing. It’s hard enough work that you don’t need to add the handicap of doing it blind. I like a good headlamp to light my way in attics.
When you’re done sit back in comfort and watch the savings trickle in month after month and year after year all because you donated one Saturday to insulate your attic properly.
Founder & Senior Editor
I love old houses, working with my hands, and teaching others the excitment of doing it yourself! Everything is teachable if you only give it the chance.