Tips for insulating your attic from Angie's List

Earth Day is right around the corner and what better way to celebrate than making your home more energy efficient. In today's Angie's List report, if you want to cut your home's energy costs, first take a look in your attic.

When Suzanne Rees moved into this forty year old home back in December, she noticed a temperature difference with the top level compared to the basement and main level.

"There was a noticeable difference – our previous home was a single story home, and being on a multi-level home, there was a noticeable difference when we walked up the stairs. When we went up to the bedroom floor, it was easily a five degree difference, and we could really feel it when we were in the bedrooms. So we felt like the attic insulation upstairs may not be adequate."

"Often times we only think of our attic as an extra place for storage but it's actually plays a key role in making sure you home is comfortable throughout the year," says Angie's Lists' Angie Hicks. "A properly insulated attic can reduce your energy costs by 10 to 20 percent."

"There's fiberglass and cellulose. That's basically the two," explains Insulation Contractor Jim Vanslyke. "Fiberglass is white and cellulose is gray, but it's denser so we think cellulose is a little bit tighter, especially on older houses."

Hicks has some tips for finding help.

"If you would like to add or update insulation in your home you're going to be hiring an insulation contractor. Talk to them about what you house needs. They are going to talk to about the R value that's in your home and what's recommended for your region of the country."

The R value is a piece of a very important equation. Vanslyke breaks it down.

"R value is the resistance to heating and cooling of loss to where there is cold or heat. R is resistance so the higher the R value the more resistance to heating and or cooling. Hot or cold."

Learning how to control the R value can pay off in the long run.

"Your heating and cooling bills drop 10, 15, 20 percent every R-5 or 10 you add. A new home is a whole lot more efficient that the old ones."

It's important to find out if you have enough insulation in your attic. Hicks has some tips for recognizing whether or not your attic has enough insulation.

"Insulation can deteriorate over time so it's important for you to check it periodically. A good rule of thumb is if you can see the floor joists, you don't have enough insulation."

Congress reinstated the energy efficiency home improvement tax credits this year, and eligible homeowners can claim up to $500 in tax credits that had expired at the end of 2011.

The credit is eligible for homeowners who have added Energy Star-rated home improvement items, including insulation, to their homes last year or plan to do so this year.

Those who have not used any energy tax credits in the past would be eligible for the full $500. Homeowners who have used $300 in credits dating back to 2006, for example, would still be eligible for $200.

Homeowners are advised to contact their accountant to see what qualifies as energy efficient and whether they are eligible for the credit.

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