How Attic Insulation Can Keep Your Home Cool in Summer

by Editor on August 28, 2013

Attic renovation (detail)

It’s plain to see that insulation up in your home’s attic will help keep you far warmer during the cold months of winter. And the thicker the insulation, the warmer you will be. But did you know that insulation is also crucial in the summertime? Insulation plays a crucial role in keeping the temperature down when the days get hot. It’s actually one of the more efficient ways to cool a home, and you won’t have to give it another thought for several years. Here is a quick look at how attic insulation can keep your home cool in summer.

First off, consider the basic premise of insulation. The goal is to fill gaps. When you have insulation either layered in sheets or sprayed down across the roof beams and around the edges of your attic, you’re basically taking care of your gap problem. You’ll be pumping the air conditioning for the remainder of the summer, and without insulation that cool air will rise right into the attic, then through and out into the yard. Just make sure that you have it professionally installed. Otherwise you might not realize the HVAC savings you were expecting.

Although you do want to seal up the gaps, insulation will work best when your attic still retains some amount of ventilation. Remember, you don’t want this to be an airtight space. Without some ability to breathe your attic will start feeling like an oven. You’ve certainly noticed this from time to time during those brutal summer days. And if there’s not enough ventilation in place you’ll find that horrible, cloying heat remains for most of the night. This forces your air conditioner to work even harder to cool the space, and it won’t ever balance out.

It’s also crucial for the life of your insulation that you’ve got the proper ventilation in place. On those very hot days your air conditioner will help make the interior much cooler. With a quality insulation job there will be a major temperature difference, and very little of the cold air will squeeze through. The problem is condensation will start building up on the exterior-facing end of the insulation and the underside of the roof. That condensation could cause mold, wood rot or even a dangerous compromise of the roof’s integrity. So balance out the seal required on the inside with insulation on the outside to obtain maximum cooling effect and longevity.

You’ll have plenty of different options for proper insulation, but your best bet is to mix and match types depending on their application points. You can insulate the attic floor with rolls of solid insulation. These are easy to install on your own, and there’s also a simple rating system that will detail each materials’ insulation capacity so you can figure out the optimal choice for your region. And hopefully the one you choose will have some amount of absorption ability, so when you’re stuck with an air conditioner leaking water you won’t run into any problems. But go with a quality spray foam option for underneath the roof sheathing. It’s a more expensive choice, but it will keep the heat from the sun beaming down on the roof to transferring inside. That means a huge amount of cooling that will certainly be worth the investment.

photo by: mskogly

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