Personal Finance

Here Are The Best Roof Insulation Options To Consider

Most people don’t devote much time to thinking about roof insulation. However, making a strategic decision about the best insulation for your home can help you stay comfortable while also saving money. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the typical homeowner can save roughly 15% annually on their utility bill by properly insulating their home.

If you are building a new home, or looking to upgrade your home’s insulation, there are multiple types of insulation to consider. The best type of insulation for your home will depend on factors such as where you are located, your budget and existing insulation that you plan to retain.

Understanding R-Values for Roof Insulation

The R-Value is a way to gauge how effectively insulation blocks the flow of heat through it, which can keep heat inside your home on cold days and outside on hot days. On the minimally insulated end of the spectrum are R-Values below R30. For maximal insulation, you would want an R-Value closer to R60.

To help homeowners understand what type of insulation is the best fit for their geographic region, Energy Star has a map that shows what R-Value homeowners should use for insulation. For example, homeowners in Florida are recommended to use insulation with an R-Value as low as R30. On the other side of the spectrum, homeowners in northern Minnesota should use insulation with an R-Value of at least R49.

You may be able to use insulation with a lower R-Value if you are adding new insulation on top of existing insulation, which is detailed in the Energy Star map.

Best Types of Insulation for Roofs

Spray Foam Insulation

With spray foam insulation, a polyurethane or latex spray is evenly applied directly to the underside of the roof deck, slates and tiles. Not only does this provide insulation, but it also seals cracks and blocks moisture from getting into the home. It may be used for the full insulation or in targeted areas that are prone to moisture accumulation. If used to insulate a full attic space, it would be on the upper end of the cost spectrum for insulation with potential costs of $10,000.

Pros

  • Longer lasting than fiberglass insulation
  • Seals gaps and is moisture resistant
  • Effective insulation for higher R-Values

Cons

  • Expensive compared to fiberglass or blown-in insulation
  • Must be professionally installed

Batt Insulation

A very popular type of insulation, batt blanket insulation is made from fiberglass and is relatively DIY friendly to install. Batt insulation comes in rolls of varying sizes and R-Values. The insulation can be cut to fit around ceiling joists and rafters, but will not provide the same seal that spray foam insulation offers. It is a good low-cost option with average costs ranging from $500 to $1,500.

Pros

  • Easy to purchase and DIY
  • Low-cost
  • Moisture resistant

Cons

  • Less energy efficient due to low R-Value
  • May require several layers for ideal insulation
  • May irritate skin, eyes and lungs during installation

Loose-Fill or Blown-In Insulation

Made from fiberglass, cellulose or recycled materials, loose-fill or blown-in insulation is a good option for filling a large space, such as an attic or crawl space. It can be blown into the space using a flexible tube, which makes it possible to insulate a hard-to-reach space. You have a good amount of control over the total insulation, which can help you achieve the right amount for your climate. The average costs range from $1,750 to $5,550.

Fiberglass insulation is non-flammable, but is not as well-suited to cold climates. Cellulose insulation is flammable, but is a better option for colder climates and is more durable than fiberglass.

Pros

  • Control over R-Value
  • Can fit in hard-to-reach spaces or fill up more space
  • Possible to DIY

Cons:

  • Need to take safety precautions while installing
  • Can deflate over time
  • Can retain moisture

Structural Insulated Panels

Structural insulated panels, or SIPs, look like plywood with rigid insulation sandwiched between them. This makes them difficult to retrofit into homes, but is an increasingly popular and durable option to incorporate while building a home. They cost an average of $10 to $12 per square foot. When installed properly, SIPs can dramatically reduce energy costs.

Pros

  • Can hold weight (up to 70lbs per square foot)
  • Energy-efficient and helps lower utility costs
  • Available in custom sizes and shapes

Cons

  • Must be professionally installed
  • Installation is best during building, not adding later
  • Must be protected from moisture

Rigid Insulation Boards

More commonly used to insulate walls in living spaces than attics, rigid board insulation is made from polyisocyanurate or polyiso, extruded polystyrene (XPS) or expanded polystyrene (EPS). The material used for the rigid insulation board will affect the R-Value as well as the cost; the higher the R-Value, the higher the cost is, on average. The average costs range from $4,000 to $15,500.

Pros

  • Possible to get a high R-Value
  • DIY friendly in the right type of space
  • Energy efficient

Cons

  • Not ideal for insulating unfinished attics
  • Expensive to install in large spaces
  • Typically treated with chemical fire retardant, which may have negative health effects.

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The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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