Boulder Attic Insulation Can Save You Money—Here's How

Pink attic insulation covering the ceiling of a residential attic space in Boulder.

Your window frames and door jambs are sealed up so no air drafts can get in. Your HVAC system is in great shape and running efficiently. You've even checked your siding, and there's no cracks or gaps that could let heat out. So why does it seem like the charges on your energy costs are getting higher and higher every month? The answer may be lurking in a part of your house you rarely visit or think about—your attic space. Having proper attic insulation in Boulder is an important part of managing energy costs.

If your attic is just a dusty gap between your ceiling and your roof, you might not have ever bothered to poke your head in and look around up there. But it's very possible that the insulating material in the space has deteriorated to the point where it is no longer sufficient—or it was never adequate to begin with. In that case, your money is being needlessly frittered away on thermal energy that is escaping through the roof and you need Boulder attic insulation services.

The trusted team of service professionals at Mr. Handyman of E Boulder, Broomfield & Erie is just a phone call away. We're experienced with attic insulation in Boulder, CO and nearby areas. Our expert Boulder handyman team can get your insulation installed correctly and efficiently, and help out with multiple other energy-saving repair and maintenance tasks around your property as well.

Can Boulder Attic Insulation Really Help Homeowners Save Money?

Absolutely! Depending on the condition of your existing attic insulation, the savings could be quite significant over time. In fact, if you are looking for ways to reduce energy usage so you can pay less on your energy bills, your attic insulation is one of the first places you should check. It might seem a little strange that a part of your house you rarely—if ever—enter needs to be insulated, but once you understand more about how it works, it makes perfect sense.

When we talk about insulation in your walls, for example, we know that the purpose is to keep rooms comfortable and livable. But attic insulation usually isn't there to keep your attic itself insulated. Instead, installation prevents the transfer of heat between your ceilings and roof, holding thermal energy in your rooms below so it can't escape out through your roof. That keeps your house warmer in winter and cooler in summer. The only exception to this is if your attic space is actually a habitable finished area with walls and a ceiling.

Attic insulation deteriorates over time by flattening and thinning out, which reduces its ability to prevent heat loss. If the material in your Boulder home has degraded to the point where it's no longer effective, or you never had it installed to begin with, you are losing a lot of heat during cold months through air leaks. But that doesn't mean everything is just fine during warm months—when the hot sun beats down on your roof, it naturally makes the space underneath a lot warmer. If there's no attic insulation to stop it, that heat will seep down through your entire house and make it uncomfortably warm all summer long.

Here's where the money part comes in. Your cooling and heating bills are likely the biggest sources of energy usage in your home by far. That's the case for even the most energy-efficient home, because your HVAC system needs to burn through a lot of electricity or natural gas to keep your house at a comfortable temperature. But when warm air from your furnace is able to escape through your roof, or you have a hot roof radiating warmth throughout the whole house, your HVAC system has to operate for a lot longer to compensate for that lack of energy efficiency. Since it's already pretty costly to run your HVAC system, the increased energy usage makes a very noticeable difference on your monthly utility bills and takes money out of your bank account that would be better spent elsewhere.

Other Advantages of Having Adequate Boulder Attic Insulation

Paying less on your energy bills is a good reason to make sure your attic insulation is in great condition, but it's not the only benefit. Here are some of the other perks that come with Boulder attic insulation services:

  • Keep HVAC in Good Shape Longer: When you have sufficient attic insulation, your HVAC system is able to maintain the temperature in your home while running less frequently and for shorter periods of time. Since your system has numerous components that take wear and tear damage over time, reduced usage will keep it in good condition for longer so you can avoid costly repairs or replacement.

  • Improve Indoor Air Quality: Over the years, attic material collects dust, dander and other allergens. It can also suffer from issues such as mold or mildew growth if it becomes damp. Having all of that sitting in a pile right above your head lowers your indoor air quality and can make life particularly unpleasant for allergy sufferers. Replacing it with new material will remove all those built-up allergens, making your indoor air a lot cleaner and more breathable.

  • Smaller Carbon Footprint: Attic insulation is one of the things that is covered by the Energy Star program. It's jointly run by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy to promote energy efficiency. Energy Star also rates and certifies products, buildings and other things that meet certain standards of energy efficiency. You can reduce your own carbon footprint by decreasing your energy usage.

  • Noise Reduction: If the area you live in has a lot of noise outdoors such as a busy street, adequate attic insulation will help reduce outdoor noise inside your house to give you some additional peace and quiet by helping to form an acoustical barrier. However, if your main goal is soundproofing, you will likely need to start with wall insulation.

What Does R-Value Mean in Reference to Attic Insulation?

The R-value of any given material is a measure of its thermal performance, level of insulation and effective heat resistance. The approximate R-value is generally expressed per inch of thickness, and there are a range of factors that influence R-value calculations such as the type, thickness and density of the material.

A high R-value indicates that the material is better at heat retention, and it generally indicates a higher price tag as well. But just for the record, it is usually not necessary to buy attic insulation with the highest R-value available, because the R-value your house needs is related to the climate here in Boulder, as well as the volume and condition of existing insulation in your house.

The minimum recommended R-value for attics in Boulder is R49, but you may need to go higher than that if you currently have an uninsulated space. If you're not sure what effective R-value you should be looking for, our Boulder handyman team can find out more about your house and the needs of your household, and offer a recommendation based on our professional experience.

What Types of Boulder Attic Insulation Materials are Available?

There are a couple of ways to categorize types of insulation: by the type of material, or by the format of the material. Types of material in Boulder include:

  • Fiberglass
  • Spray foam
  • Cellulose
  • Mineral wool

Formats, which are related to the method of installation, include:

  • Loose-fill or blown-in
  • Batts
  • Rolls
  • Spray

The most common type is fiberglass batt insulation, which is likely what comes to mind for most people when they think of insulation. It's that fluffy-looking pink stuff that looks soft and inviting to the touch, but it's made up of tiny, hair-fine strands of glass and you should definitely avoid any contact with your bare skin.

Are Rolls or Batts Better for My Attic Insulation in Boulder?

Rolls and batts differ in size, shape, and how they are installed. Batts are rectangular pieces of blanket insulation that are pre-cut in manageable sizes that make them easier to carry and easier to adapt to spaces with an irregular shape. Batts are typically about 15 to 24 inches wide, and either 48 or 93 inches long. Rolls are the same materials, cost about the same and provide the same function, but they come in a different formats. They are essentially large rolls of blanket insulation that need to be unrolled and cut to the appropriate size. Both batts and rolls come in the same range of R-values.

If you've got a big, empty space to fill with Boulder attic insulation, rolls are a good choice. They can be quickly unrolled to cover the area and then cut to the correct size for your attic so there are no gaps between the pieces and it won't be able to shift around much. But if your attic is tiny or oddly shaped, batts make more sense. It's much simpler to fit them around obstacles such as corners and support pillars, and they are a lot easier to move around in a small area.

What Is the Difference Between Warm and Cold Attic Insulation?

Warm and cold attic installations are terms that aren't really related to the type of insulation so much as where it is placed. With a cold installation, the material is installed on the floor of your space. This is common in older homes or any house where an attic is not a habitable area. Attic insulation covers your “floor” (which is usually not a real floor but just the other side of the ceiling and support joists). That prevents air movement and heat flow between your roof and the story of your house that's right below it, leaving your attic itself cold but keeping thermal energy from escaping the livable part of the building. If you have an unfinished attic that is used for storage—or not used at all—cold installation is a good choice to help reduce your costs. It gives your HVAC system less air volume to cover, and less material is needed for the installation.

Warm installation covers the ceiling of your attic, which is the underside of your roof. It would then be drywalled over to create a finished, habitable area. If you have a finished attic that includes living space or you're interested in converting it to livable space in the future, your house needs warm installation. That way, the heat or cool air from your HVAC can make its way up to the top level to maintain indoor comfort up there.

Is Warm Attic Insulation Suitable for My Roof?

Before you decide on a warm installation, there is a caveat you should know about. If you have an older home in Boulder or a roof with wood shingles, the roof is designed with gaps or vents that allow it to get wet and dry out naturally without causing moisture damage problems. If that ventilation is sealed up with insulating material, your roof won't be able to ventilate properly and the moisture will fester, seeping into the wooden support structure. That leaves the timber vulnerable to wood rot, which decays timber with a moisture content of 20% or higher, causing it to soften and crumble apart. In severe cases where it has been rampant for a long time, wood rot can actually cause your roof deck or ceiling joists to collapse. Keeping the outside of your roofline secure against moisture is important too. Learn what Boulder homeowners should know about fascia boards and trim repair.

Ready to Stop Overpaying for Energy Costs? Our Boulder Attic Insulation Services Can Help!

Whether they are in Boulder or a nearby community such as Louisville, Erie or Frederick, Colorado homeowners don't want to pay any more than necessary on their monthly utility bills. The professional team at Mr. Handyman of E Boulder, Broomfield & Erie can take care of attic insulation projects from start to finish, along with dozens of other projects for improving energy efficiency, such as window replacement.

Pick up the phone and give us a call today to book a convenient appointment, or to find out more about how we can enhance your property and make your life easier.