Calculating Blown In Insulation Cost

 

With ever more focus on energy efficiency in the home, insulation is one area where the average home can make a significant difference. Whether your reasons are financial, environmental or purely for comfort, blown in insulation will go a very long way to achieve those goals.

For most people the main question will be about the blown in insulation cost and this site will provide you with a guide to estimating those costs. Also keep in mind that you can claim a Federal Energy Efficiency Tax Credit up to $500, which can go a long way towards paying for the job.

The most commonly used material for blown-in insulation is fiberglass, so the first table will focus on this material. Ultimately, the cost will come down to the amount of insulation you want to have blown in. The more insulated you want your home to be, the more material will be needed, and the more labor time will be required to get the job done.

 

Blown-In Attic Insulation Costs:

R-Value Bags* Per 1,000 Sq. Ft. Material Cost** Installed Thickness Inches Hours of Labor***
R 30 15 $495 10.25 4
R-38 20 $660 13 5
R-44 23 $759 14.75 6
R-49 26 $858 16.5 7
R-60 32 $1,056 20 8

* based on average bag weight of 28.5 lbs.

** Based on Home Depot price of $33 per bag

*** this is dependent on the machinery used

blown in insulation 7

R-30 is the minimum recommended insulation for attics, in order to achieve more thermal efficiency. At a current price at Home Depot of about $33 per bag, the material costs will be a minimum of $495, plus 4 hours of labor. Blowing insulation into an attic is a relatively straightforward DIY attic insulation job. All you will have to do is rent the machine and get one other person to help you out by keeping the machine filled.

 

So for a DIY job on a 1,000 sq. ft. attic you can expect to pay:

1)    Materials: $500 to $1,100

2)    Machine rental: $100

3)    Total: $600 to $1,200

Alternatively you can hire a professional company who should be able to complete the job in a couple of hours with a crew of three people. The cost of labor can vary so much throughout the country, that it is best to contact companies directly for a quote, but you can expect to pay anywhere from $40 to $70 per hour.

 

Blown-In Walls/Floors Insulation Costs:

blown in insulation 5

Wall and floor insulation is a considerably more complex job than attic insulation, and requires the drilling of holes in precise locations of the walls or floors. Therefore it may be advisable to hire a professional for the job, if you are not comfortable with doing the job yourself.

You will notice in the below table that the maximum achievable r-value is a lot lower than in the attic table above. The reason for this is that the cavity space in walls is quite limited, whereas an unused attic space has room for a lot of material to be piled up.

 

R-Value Bags* Per 1,000 Sq. Ft. Material Cost** Installed Thickness Inches Hours of Labor***
R 13 13 $429 3.5 20
R-15 15 $495 3.5 23
R-21 21 $693 5.5 27
R-24 29 $957 5.5 30

* based on average bag weight of 28.5 lbs.

** Based on Home Depot price of $33 per bag

*** this is dependent on the machinery used

 

So for a DIY job on a 1,000 sq. ft. wall you can expect to pay:

1)    Materials: $430 to $960

2)    Machine rental: $100

3)    Total: $530 to $1,060

blown in insulation cost 6

blown in insulation cost

As you can see, the amount of time it will take to prepare the walls and floors, and then pump in the material is quite high, and for a one person DIY job will take several days. Also be aware of the fact that it is quite tricky to make sure that each stud bay is properly filled from top to bottom. This may be a job best left to professionals, as it could end up costing you in the long run.

Costs for labor vary extremely from one end of the country to the other, but you can expect to pay anywhere from $40 to $70 per hour. This does make wall insulation considerably more expensive than the attic equivalent. Taking an r-13 job for 1,000 sp. ft. you would be looking at:

1)    Materials: $430

2)    Labor: $800 to $1,400

3)    Total: $1,230 to $1,830

Blown in insulation cost is considerably higher than the attic equivalent, but his should not put you off doing it.

 

Blown In Insulation Types

When it comes to blown-in insulation there are three common materials:

1)    Fiberglass

2)    Cellulose

3)    Spray in polyurethane foam

Fiberglass is by far the most commonly used material and is generally speaking the least expensive to use for insulation. The great advantage with it is that once it has been pumped into a cavity or the attic, it does not settle by the effects of gravity. This means that it does not lose any of its insulating properties over time.

blown in insulation calculator

blown in insulation calculator

Cellulose is a more natural material usually made from recycled paper and/or cardboard. The material is also treated to make it fire resistant and resistant to moisture and mold. Many people prefer using natural and recycled materials for ecological reasons, but keep in mind that it will generally cost more than the equivalent project using fiberglass.

Finally, spray in foam is one of the most effective materials of these blown in insulation types, due to the fact that once sprayed it expands and completely fills a targeted area. However, it is very expensive material to use, and would generally be prohibitive to use for attic or wall insulation. Where it does come in handy is for all areas around openings to the outside, e.g. around vents and door/window fittings.

 

3 Major Benefits of Insulation

Insulating your home has three main benefits that should give everyone reason to get the job done and justify the blown in insulation cost:

1)    Positive environmental impact of using less energy

2)    Positive financial impact of using less energy

3)    Increased levels of comfort in the home

For some people the main reason for insulating a home is down to having a positive impact by reducing CO2 emissions. This is definitely something insulation will do, as the average home, when properly insulated can save up to 30% on energy consumption.

blow in insulationThis saving on energy use also has a huge impact on energy bills, and probably makes this one of the biggest benefits of insulation. With oil prices rising and utility companies increasing their charges on a regular basis, the financial benefit of proper insulation will only increase in the years to come.

And finally, whether you predominantly heat or cool your home, it will be a lot more comfortable when there is less temperature change between indoors and outdoors. This results is a much more even and stable temperature, that is not only easier to achieve, but also easier to maintain.

 

Blown In Insulation R Value

R-value of insulation is a measure of thermal resistance used by the construction industry. The higher this value the more insulation there is. Generally speaking the same r-value can be achieved with different materials, but dependent on the efficiency of the material more inches of it will be required. In tight spaces, like cavity walls and under floors it makes sense to use more efficient and expensive materials, while in most attics cheaper material can be used with greater thickness to save money. Ultimately the r-value you choose will dictate the blown in insulation cost.

You should always work out how much material you need in order to achieve a certain blown in insulation r value, as this will give you a good indication of costs.

 

Don’t forget to claim your Federal Energy Efficiency Tax Credit once you have started your project.

 

photo credit: zieak, ArmchairBuilder.com, Gramody via photopin cc Creative Commons Licenseilovebutter,  Jamie Beverly

Save Valuable Energy With DIY Attic Insulation

With ever increasing energy costs and parts of the country seeing some extreme weather conditions in recent years it is no surprise that more and more people are looking to reduce their bills and live in a more environmentally friendly way. For a long time insulation projects were very costly and would generally require the expertise of a professional installer. However, with advances in materials DIY attic insulation jobs are now quite simple and straightforward.

The attic space of any building is probably one of the easiest and cheapest areas for temperature insulating materials to be installed. While windows and doors are commonly where most temperature exchange takes place, it can be very expensive, time consuming and disruptive to replace old inefficient windows. With improved levels of attic insulation you can improve your energy footprint and the general comfort level quite significantly.

 

Blown In Insulation

The great thing about blown insulation is that you can quite easily get a very even spread of insulation material even into the smallest corners of your attic. Mostly made of fiberglass or eco-friendly cellulose or other recycled material, it is fed into a blowing machine and then pumped through a hose. All you need to do is point the hose in the direction you want the material to go. It really couldn’t be simpler from a DIY perspective.

DIY Attic Insulation

DIY Attic Insulation

What you need to do first though is calculate how much insulation you want to achieve a certain R-value and then work out how many bags of material you will need. Blowing machines can be rented from places like HomeDepot and with the help of one extra person you can have your attic insulated in less than a day.

 

Rolled Insulation

This type of insulation is practical and relatively easy to apply as well, but it does require a bit more manual labor. Mostly made of fiberglass these rolls come in varying widths and lengths. Your job involves cutting the rolls so that they fit between attic joists and this is where the job does become a bit more time consuming. Especially around difficult to reach areas of your attic it can be quite complicated to get the material tightly installed. However, it can end up costing you less as you do not need to buy or hire insulation blowing equipment.

 

Foil Backed

Another easy way of DIY attic insulation is to use foil backed insulation. Essentially this material is supplied with a foam or fiberglass center and a heat repelling foil on each side. Similar to the above rolls you will be required to cut these to size. As the insulation comes in a more rigid form it does make it a little bit easier to apply in certain areas, but it is definitely not as good as the above two solutions.

 

Conclusion

DIY attic insulation really has become quite easy and even someone with very limited home improvement skills will be able to take on such a project with a little bit of planning and calculation. Blown insulation will definitely provide the highest level of benefits and save the most amount of energy with very little effort. Best thing to do is check out how much insulation material you would need to achieve a certain R-value and then work out whether renting an insulation blower adds a lot to the costs. In many cases it really is worth it, as the job is much tidier and less time consuming. But make sure you don’t just stop after one insulation project, there are additional Home Insulation Tips And Energy Saving Ideas.

Some Useful Home Insulation Tips And Energy Saving Ideas

 

There are many things you can do to make add insulation to your home. Some are smaller projects, while others will take considerable time and effort to plan and execute. But here are some home insulation tips and energy saving ideas to consider.

 

1) Insulate hot water and heating pipes

Especially if you are living in an older house you should check if hot water and heating pipes are insulated. This is particularly important if the pipes run along un-insulated cavities or in an attic space.

As long as all the pipes are not hidden in walls this can be a relatively straightforward job to do. DYI stores like Home Depot can provide you with foam insulation. This insulation comes in different lengths and diameters, so you need to know how thick the pipes are.

Pipe Insulation Once you have the right insulation it is simply a job of wrapping it around any exposed and easily accessible piping. This can make a very big difference to your heating system, as heat is not lost in spaces where it is not needed.

 

2) Double or triple glazing

Windows is where houses lose most of their heat. Double glazing has been very common for many decades and is certainly a huge improvement on single glazing. However, these days you can get triple glazing which reduces heat exchange between the inside and outside of a building.

This certainly is a big and expensive project to undertake. If you have an old house with single glazing, then this is a hugely advisable thing to do. As mentioned already, most heat exchange takes part through windows. Before yo make a final decision you are probably best off hiring an insulation specialist.

 

3) Service heating boiler regularly

Strictly speaking this is not an insulation tip, but it is something that will greatly improve the efficiency of your hot water and heating system. Just like cars, hot water boilers have to be serviced regularly.

If this is done at least every 2 years then your boiler may start performing worse than it should. This will result in more fuel use to achieve the same output.

 

4) Replace an open fireplace with a solid fuel stove

home insulation tips  Everyone enjoys an open fire in the winter; there is something very comforting about it. But, up to 70% of the generated heat will escape through the chimney. That is a huge waste and the heat would be much better used if were to stay in the home.

Solid fuel stoves have become very popular and you can even get ones with a glass front so you still get the visual appeal of the flames. A good installation will result in the closing off of the fireplace, which reduced a draft to the outside.

Heat loss directly from the fire is hugely reduced with over 65% staying in the house. And the reduction of the draft from the chimney means that more heat stays in the building.

 

 

image credit: J Mark Doddsmike appel via Compfight

Hiring An Insulation Specialist

For many people doing an insulation job on a home is not something they would attempt to do, so hiring an insulation specialist is the only option. Other people may be DYI enthusiasts, but just not quite comfortable with certain types of insulation work.

In either situation, a specialist contractor with specific insulation experience is the best option, as they will be able to see a project through from start to finish. Their consultation should give you a clear idea of what you are getting and what your potential savings are.

A contractor will first of all help you determine what insulation options are most suitable to your specific building. Dependent on the age of the house, there may be certain limits, but a specialist will be able to say exactly what is suitable and what would have the best results. In some cases you may even be limited to exterior wall insulation.

The cost of each type of insulation, as well as different insulation materials, will ultimately determine what you choose. But a good insulation specialist will be able to calculate the exact cost of a project and then outline what your energy savings will be over time.

One thing to keep in mind is that some types of insulation may not save you a lot of money in the short term, but will still improve the quality and comfort of a home immensely. This is especially the case in buildings that suffer from dampness, where there simply is no price that can be put on comfort.

Insulation Installation

Once you have decided on a certain type, the specialist will be able to take on the project and usually with a crew of workers get the job done in a much shorter time than you could do yourself. While some types of insulation are simple to do yourself, there is a certain level of comfort in having a professional get the job right from the start.

Before you hire a contractor, make sure you do some research into their previous work. Ideally you would hire one based on the recommendation of someone you know personally. But if this is not possible then definitely ask for some previous job references and contact those people.Some things you should ask previous customers is mainly about the accuracy of estimates, speed of job completion, quality of workmanship and maybe how accurate estimated savings were.Having all this information will make sure that you choose the right person to get the job done, with a certain level of confidence that you are not hiring a sub-par specialist with not enough experience.

 

Creative Commons License mycobond via Compfight

Exterior Wall Insulation

When insulating existing walls, blown in wall insulation is the most effective way of getting the job done. But some old buildings where there is very little or no cavity in the walls prove to be quite difficult to insulate in this way. This is where the method of exterior wall insulation comes into play, and sometimes proves to be the only effective solution.

The most common and popular method is using wall foam insulation. Polystyrene foam tiles are directly attached to the outside of the building, which in some cases is the only option.

When this method first came onto the market, there were very few options to the look of the exterior insulation. But today, there are many materials and colors available, including stone, timber or brick finish. This means that you can make your home look just like you want it to, by either applying a certain color, or have it blend into its surroundings with a timber cladding.

96 Maison de Fée

One of the biggest advantages of this form of insulating existing walls is that, when done properly, will pretty much eliminate cold and damp air penetrating the interior of a building. But if you have an existing problem with rising damp, then this is something you should have looked at by professionals first, as exterior wall insulation will not solve this problem.

With insulation applied to the exterior, it is important to consult professionals to do the installation, unless you are very confident in your DIY skills. It is very easy to get this kind of job wrong, and when not done correctly you could end up wasting an awful lot of time and money on wall foam insulation that does not solve your problems.

A great advantage of exterior insulation over interior insulation is that it can be done without disrupting the household, as all the work is done on the outside. However, be prepared to spend quite a lot of money to get the job done right. This still means that you get great savings per year, but it will probably take more than 10 years for you to get a financial return on your investment. When it comes to insulating the exterior of a building it is usually more about comfort of getting rid of a dampness problem, when blown in wall insulation is not an option.

 

image credit: nebojsa mladjenovic via Compfight

Most Common Thermal Insulation Materials

When it comes to insulation there are several options of home insulation types. Ultimately the choice of material will come down to affordability, as the more efficient the material is the more expensive.

There are three main types of thermal insulation materials:

  1. Fiberglass
  2. Cellulose
  3. Spray in polyurethane foam

 

By far the most commonly used material is fiberglass, which has been used for many years now. The raw material is transformed into a fibre like material in a pumping machine and once it is pumped out it does not settle. This means that it does not lose its effectiveness over time.

insulation

Fiberglass is also commonly used in rolls and batts which can be easily installed into attic spaces. It is however a more time consuming process that will cost more than blown in insulation.

Cellulose has become quite popular in recent years due to its environmental friendliness. Made of recycled paper and cardboard, it is applied similar to fiberglass. It is also a more natural product which a lot of people prefer to the alternatives.

Spray in foam is one of the most efficient, but also most expensive home insulation types. Once sprayed into place the foam expands just like spray shaving foam, which ensures that a cavity are is completely filled. Generally it is used to fill in small gaps around opening in buildings, like vents, windows and doors.

In addition to these common materials there are some options for insulating walls where there is no cavity to pump material into. The options here are to either apply internal or external wall insulation, directly to the wall.

For external insulation, the most commonly employed method is to attach tiles made of polystyrene directly on the outside of the building. This is quite a big job, and may be too big a job for most DIY enthusiasts. Bear in mind that if not done properly it can mean that maximum effectiveness is not achieved.

blown in insulationAnother commonly employed home insulation types are foil backed insulation. This is generally used to apply insulation to the interior of a wall. Essentially you get pieces of plasterboard or dry wall, which has a foil back to it that reflects heat. It is a very easy way to add internal insulation when there is no cavity to pump, but it is not one of the cheapest ways.

Today, all materials sold have to be fire resistant insulation. Whether fiberglass, cellulose or polystyrene, the thermal insulation materials have to be treated with fire resistant solutions. But it is always prudent to check the packaging to make sure that it is indeed fire resistant insulation.

 

image credit:  jude hill, Denis Collette via Compfight,