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heidabear 08-02-2012 07:57 PM

Insulate Attic, solar screens, attic fan- biggest bang for buck?
So we recently purchased a 1500 sq foot home and this summer have learned that our a/c is too small for the home. We're wanting to make all the adjustments we can to help the a/c cool the home better (we live in Texas and when it gets over 100 degrees, which happens often- today was 109, our a/c can't keep up and the temp in our home rises. I set it at 75 and somedays it will get as hot as 85 inside)

Anyway, we have a steel framed home. We currently have about 10 inches of fiberglass blown in. We had an attic guy come look at our home to give us an estimate and to recommend. He suggested adding 8 or 11 more inches of fiberglass (and quoted $850 and $1086 respectively) and suggested adding a solar attic fan (for $800). The temp of our attic in the middle of the day when he came was 147 degrees (about 108 outside) and the steel frame was ~130 degrees.

We've also got an estimate to do solar screens on the house for a little less than $400.

My question is- we could probably afford about $1000 to spend on this- we're not opposed to DIY, but I'm finding that to do insulation myself it would cost about $900 anyway to blow in 11 more inches.

How big of a difference in terms of a cooler home, would the insulation do for us? What do you think the bigger bang for our buck would be? Is it worth hiring someone considering that I'm having trouble finding a cheaper way to do it? Any and all opinions are helpful.

saladdin 08-03-2012 06:56 AM

Not a Pro. Just an homeowner like you. Bought less then a year ago, 1400 sq ft, in The Great State of Tennessee so I know about hot summers.

Do it yourself.

First caulk all holes, light fixtures etc...

Insulation is your biggest bang. DIY for much less. Go to Lowe's and get the blown in type and you get a free rental of their machine. You could have it done in a few hours saturday morning.

I also bought these:

And placed them between my curtains and windows inside the house on sun facing windows. Dropped my internal temp 5 degrees on that particular side of the house.

Bought some of this and sealed ducting under my house.

Going to install this for better air circulation. I have a wood pellet stove, so this will help in the winter time also.

Thinking of installing this since my attic is 120ish.

Bought this for my Heat Pump. Saves me tons of money because I turn the heat pump off from 0800-1630.

Bought this to hunt down air leaks.

Thinking about this. But have heard conflicting things.

Bought this because I'm cool, and the Rangers suck!

joecaption 08-03-2012 07:49 AM

Instead of trying to use a shotgun and just guessing what to work on first, look into getting an energy audit. Some power company offer a free or low cost check or will at least be able to give you some leads on where to look, my county even offers a program.

I personal would never use a solor fan or in fact any roof mounted fan.
I use ridge vents. Low cost, uses 0 power, no maintaince, vents the whole roof not just a circle.

It's just as important to have unblocked soffit vents, air tite windows, an air sealed attic and under the house. (seal all the holes in the ceiling and top and bottom plates where wiring, plumbing, light fixtures, ceiling fans are)

Make sure your doors are sealed up.
If your more concerned with the hot seasons then the colder seasons and you need to change your shingles, Consider lighter colored shingles. Insulation can be added over the roof sheathing in the form of SIP roofing panels.

Make sure you keep an eye on your HVAC filters and make sure the coil in the air exchanger is clean so it can run as good as it can.
A simple thing like your registers were installed in the wrong place can make a differance.
Check all your duct for leaks and no insulation, if someone used Duck tape and not foil tape or mastic on the ducts it can rot over time and leak.

gregzoll 08-03-2012 08:03 AM

There are actually three threads started by this person that are about the same subject. They all need to be merged into one.

heidabear 08-03-2012 10:04 AM

Thanks Joe and Saladdin- good ideas. I've had an a/c guy and a attic guy come out, I'll research an energy guy as well. The attic guy recommended calling a roofer and seeing if we have enough hail damage to qualify for a new roof against our insurance. Looks like our neighbors have lots of damage, but neither my husband nor I really see anything on our roof. If we do have damage, a lighter roof would be a good option. Right now, the shingles are dark.

Saladdin- you linked the cellulose fiber- is that as effective as fiberglass? That one is a lot cheaper than the AtticCat I've been researching. Also, because we have a steel frame home, will the cellulose cause the steel to rust? I read in just one place that that's a possibility.

Greg- I do have one other thread asking about solar screens versus solar curtains... I didn't realize that would be considered the same as this one.

knotquiteawake 08-03-2012 01:38 PM

Where in TX are you? I live in the DFW area and for 6-8in of blown in insulation my quotes were from $580-699. That is a bargain out here during the summer when the attics are 120 degrees plus. Get some more insulation quotes. One of the guys I had give me a quote was $900, much much higher than the other companies out there. Multiple quotes are your friend. It sounds like you already have a lot up there though. Could the heat be coming more from the windows/walls?

Anyone know what the r-value of his current insulation is?

Also buy solar screens from Home Depot or such. My father in law did our own. It took about $80 and an afternoon of work. Thats it. Have somebody whos done it before help you if you can.

Gary in WA 08-03-2012 11:25 PM

As kqa just above said, expect a drastic reduction in R-value from conduction with steel studs;

Also inherent convective looping in fiberglass from the flange design;

Are there HVAC unit/ducts in the attic?


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