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The attic is where homeowners can find the largest opportunities to increase their comfort and save energy and money. Take the first step by measuring how much insulation your attic has so you can “Rule Your Attic!”
From October 20th through December 12th, post a picture or short video of your attic floor insulation level on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest using the hashtag #RuleYourAttic and tagging @ENERGY STAR. Or send an email to email@example.com. ENERGY STAR will respond with expert advice on how you can improve your attic insulation. You can also watch our experts in a series of three videos to learn how to #RuleYourAttic!
Adding insulation to the attic is generally a moderately difficult do-it-yourself (DIY) project, but the benefits can be substantial. If you are doing a major home renovation project, now may be a great time to tackle this project too.
The good news is that, even if you're not comfortable taking on this project yourself, there are many qualified contractors who can help you get the work done. Note that EPA recommends air sealing the attic before adding attic insulation.
Use the information below to determine if this project is a good fit for your home, what common problems it can help address, what the potential benefits are, what tools and materials you'll need to complete the project if you choose to do it yourself, important safety considerations, step-by-step instructions for getting the job done and when to seek professional help.
The attic is usually where you can find some of the largest opportunities to save energy in your home. By adding insulation in your attic, you can maintain the desired temperature throughout your home much better. Combined with attic air sealing, it can also help to alleviate the formation of dangerous ice dams in the winter.
If your attic is accessible and not too difficult to move around in, and you enjoy tackling bigger home improvement projects, attic insulating may be a good DIY project. Otherwise, consider finding a contractor to complete the project for you.
Doing the Project Yourself
Hiring a Contractor
Ease of Project
Moderate − Difficult
Did You Know?
You may be eligible for financial assistance to make improvements like air sealing and insulating through your state's Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP).
EPA's ENERGY STAR program provides great DIY resources to help you get the job done. However, if you find any of these conditions in your attic, it is recommended that you consult or hire a professional to correct these problems before proceeding:
Difficult attic access and limited space to work
Wet or damp insulation, indicating a leaky roof
Moldy or rotted attic rafters or floor joists, indicating moisture problems
Kitchen, bathroom or clothes dryer vents that exhaust moist air directly into the attic space instead of outdoors
Little or no attic ventilation
Knob and tube wiring (pre-1930), which can be a fire hazard when in contact with insulation
Safety glasses, gloves and dust mask/protective face mask
Flashlight or portable safety light
Boards to walk on, if needed
Hard hat or cap to protect head from sharp roofing nails
Materials and Tools
Retractable utility knife and sheet metal scissors
Straight edge for cutting
Tips and Safety Considerations
Some attics have vermiculite insulation, which may contain asbestos. Vermiculite is a lightweight, pea-size, flaky gray mineral. Do not disturb vermiculite insulation unless you have had it tested by an approved lab to be sure that it does not contain asbestos. Contact your local health department for the name of an approved lab.
When adding additional insulation, you do not have to use the same type of insulation that currently exists in your attic. You can add loose fill on top of fiberglass batts or blankets, and vice versa. If you use fiberglass over loose fill, make sure the fiberglass batt has no paper or foil backing; it needs to be "unfaced." If you choose to add loose fill, it may be wise to hire a professional, as the application requires the use of a blowing machine, although some home improvement stores offer rentals of this machine.
Laying fiberglass rolls is easiest for a DIY job. If you have any type of insulation between the rafters, install the second layer over and perpendicular to the first (again, the second layer of roll insulation should be unfaced, with no vapor retarder). This will help cover the tops of the joists and reduce heat loss or gain through the frame. Also, when laying down additional insulation, work from the perimeter toward the attic opening. Never lay insulation over recessed light fixtures or soffit vents. Keep all insulation at least 3 inches away from recessed "can" lights, unless they are rated IC (Insulated Ceiling). If you are using loose fill insulation, use sheet metal or wire mesh to create barriers around the openings for such lights. If using fiberglass, wire mesh can be used to create a barrier.
Step 2. Lay fiberglass rolls.Layer rolls of fiberglass insulation perpendicular to the joists.
Step 3. Create barriers.Use sheet metal or wire mesh to help create a barrier around fixtures or vents. Insulation contacting recessed can lights can cause fire hazards. Some recessed lights can be designed for "insulation contact" or IC, in which case no barrier is needed. Check the fixture first for the IC designation before installing insulation.