How we’re staying warm, Part 1: Attic Insulation

January 16, 2009 at 10:20 am | Posted in After, Before, During, Our Attic, Our Home, Projects | 1 Comment
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In honor of the fact that the temperature hasn’t been above 0 in three days, I thought I would feature a little series called, how we’re staying warm. (Jason wants you all to know that it’s not even cold here anymore – it’s BEYOND cold).

We’re getting used to it, and it hasn’t been that big of an issue (even when standing out at the bus stop at 7am, before the sun comes up). We’re from Minnesota, which, is Sioux for reeaallly fricking cold, so it’s to be expected, right?*

Anyways, back to our house’s warmth-retaining powers. We dramatically increased our house’s ability to retain warmth last February by adding about 12″ of insulation to the attic. It was a fairly easy process, complicated only by bad math (we overestimated the amount of insulation needed by about 300%) and a broken insulation-blowing hose (remedied with duct tape, but only after blowing insulation into our hallway).

Step 1: Make sure there is space for air to circulate into the attic. In our case, insulation was already pressed against the soffits, so we pulled some of it away, inserted plastic sleeves specifically designed to allow air flow into the attic.

Step 2: Set up the insulation blower outside and run the hose up through the house and into the attic.

Step 3: Empty the bags of insulation into the blower, aim the hose in the attic in the places where insulation is needed. Clearly, 2 people are required for this step. I recommend that you also involve a third person, or at least a walkie-talkie so that the insulation-blower and the machine-stuffer can communicate. In our case, we were fortunate to have my awesome cousins Catherine and Jennifer helping us.

It took us an entire day to complete this project. It should have taken 3-4 hours start to finish, at most. Once the machine is set up, blowing the insulation into the house is quick (and dirty!).

Our total cost for the project was about $220. We spent about $200 on insulation, and $20 on truck rental so that we could return the insulation blower. Since the blower was given to us broken, I complained, and they gave us a voucher for a free rental (very useful, since we have so many projects). We also estimated that we saved ourselves about $1,000 on this project. We didn’t actually obtain any professional estimates, but I’ve been told that this would have cost anywhere from $800-1200 if we had it professionally done.

We also seem to be using about 1/3 to 1/4 less gas to heat our home! A dramatic savings when you consider that our heating bills approached $300/month last winter.

An additional bonus is that the snow isn’t melting off the roof, forming gigantic icicles hanging from our eaves, and potentially creating ice dams that could damage our roof, insulation, ceilings, etc.

*Okay, I’m lying. Minnesota actually means cloudy waters in Sioux (which accurately describes the Minnesota river, and has nothing to do with our beautiful 10,000 lakes).

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