Insulating Your Home
Adding Insulation to an Existing Home
Adding insulation to an existing home can be a great do-it-yourself project, or projects. The first thing you should know is that you're going to get dirty. There's usually a lot of crawling around in tight spaces and it can get a little uncomfortable. To make the most of your insulating time, take the time to plan your project and gather materials. The last thing you want to do is run out of something and have to run to the store covered in insulation.
If you're planning on adding insulation to an existing home with finished walls and ceilings, your best option is to insulate and air seal the attic, basement and crawlspaces. This is where most of your energy dollars disappear and it's the only space you can reach without removing walls.
Start with the Attic Insulation
It is true that heat rises. But in the summer, heat from your attic gets pulled down into your home by your air conditioner. So no matter where you live, adding insulation to your attic will give you the biggest bang for your buck. It's also the easiest place to add insulation to an existing home. Although it won't seem like it when you're crawling around up there.
Blow it or Roll it?
Adding insulation to your attic can be done two ways. You can take the easy path and blow it in or you can haul fiberglass insulation up the ladder and roll it out. Each bundle may not seem heavy on it's own, but carrying dozens of bundles up a ladder and jamming them through a small opening in your ceiling is a pain. Blowing hundreds of pounds of insulation through a 3" hose is obviously easier than carrying it up through a narrow attic hatch and my advice is to blow it. Blowing the insulation is a lot faster and provides more even coverage. Especially if your existing insulation doesn't reach the top of the joists.
If you decide to blow in the insulation into your attic, you'll have to choose between blow in fiberglass or cellulose insulation. Both are easy to install and provide even coverage in a short amount of time. The biggest difference between the two is that fiberglass is itchy and cellulose is dusty. But after an afternoon of crawling around in a dirty attic you're going to be dirty either way. Personally, I'd rather be dusty than itchy. Oh yeah, some studies have shown that the tiny fiberglass fibers could cause cancer, so dirty is sounding better and better.
Installing Fiberglass Rolls in Your Attic
Installing rolls of unfaced fiberglass insulation over top of your existing attic insulation is definitely more time consuming than blowing insulation, but it is relatively cheap and you can easily do-it-yourself. No helpers required.
The most time consuming part of rolling insulation is cutting it and weaving it into place. If you have lots of obstructions like trusses or hvac ductwork in your attic, it's going to be a test of your patience.