One of the fastest, least expensive ways to reduce heating and cooling costs is to bulk up your attic insulation. You have multiple options, but blown attic insulation is a cost-efficient, fairly simple project even for the DIY novice. The “blow” aspect means that you don’t have to physically access every corner of the space and, if you have a large attic, it makes it much easier to complete the project in only a few hours. All you need to complete the job is insulation, the blower, and time (or the name of a good contractor).
Pricing varies based on a variety of factors. Keep reading to discover cost details, what you can expect to pay, and what to look for if you opt to forego DIY and hire a professional to complete the job instead.
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What Does Attic Insulation Cost?
Insulation is assigned an R-value that indicates its thickness. If you’re looking to bulk up attic insulation and maximize the efficiency of your HVAC system, you want a minimum R-value of 30. This gives you between 10″ and 12″ of insulation. Bumping it up to R-49 gives you between 15″ and 19″. The right choice depends on whether your attic already has some degree of insulation and the climate where you live. Extreme climates – whether biting cold in the winter or scorching hot in the summer – mean that you rely more on your heating or cooling system, so you want to do the most to maximize its efficiency.
Cost varies based on the size of your attic, as well. If your attic measures around 1,000 square feet and you opt for the DIY approach, expect to pay between $500 and $1,000 for your materials, and another $100 to rent the equipment. Some vendors include the price of the equipment rental with your purchase. Ask your vendor whether equipment rental is included with the cost of insulation, or if there’s a minimum order amount.
Installing blown attic insulation also requires safety equipment – namely, a respirator. You also want a pair of safety goggles, some old clothes, and may also want to wear gloves.
If you hire a contractor, hourly rates vary widely by location and the skill of the contractor. On average, expect to pay anywhere from $40 to $70 per hour for labor. Materials costs should be about the same. Altogether, you’re looking at around $1,400, on average, for a contractor to complete a blown attic insulation project.
Obtain quotes from multiple contractors to be sure you get the best rate. However, the lowest-priced contractor isn’t necessarily the best. Check each company’s reviews online. You should also search the company on your state’s Registrar of Contractors site to make sure it has the proper licenses and insurance.
What Else Influences the Cost of Blown Attic Insulation?
The size of your attic is, of course, the greatest determiner of cost, but it isn’t the only one. Although the average cost ranges between $800 and $1,500, larger attics, obviously, cost more to insulate, typically maxing out at around $2,200. You also need to consider the following items:
- How much insulation do you need? What R-value do you want? R-30 requires less product than R-49, but if your insulation needs are significant, you want to go with the higher number.
- How much insulation do you already have? If you only have a few inches of insulation, or none at all, you’ll obviously require a lot more product to achieve your desired R-value.
- Does your attic need ventilation? The answer here is always, “Yes.” However, this question is about whether you need to add roof ventilation, which helps heat and moisture escape the space. Depending your setup (level of complexity, steepness of the roof), you may need to hire a roofer. Costs here vary widely, from as low as $300 to as high as $3,000.
- What’s going on up there? Does your attic house your ductwork, bathroom fans, recessed lighting, ceiling fixtures, speakers, or chimneys? The more you have going on in your attic, the more expensive it is to seal. Costs here range from around $300 to $1,400.
- Where do bathroom fans ventilate? The answer here should not be “the attic,” since venting bathroom fans into the attic causes mold and rot. It costs around $200 to vent your bathroom fans through the wall or roof.
Things to Remember
Though not a particularly complicated project, installing attic insulation is hot, sweaty work. Many homeowners prefer to hire a professional for that reason alone. In addition, after the cost of materials and renting the blower, you may not even save much doing it yourself. It’s worth checking pricing with multiple vendors, as well as with multiple contractors, to determine the best choice for you.
Again, don’t forget a respirator. The job itself isn’t dangerous, but breathing in that material is.