How Much Can Insulation Save You?

Allie Ogletree
Written by Allie Ogletree
Updated June 24, 2021
Man installing insulation
DonNichols / iStock / Getty Images Plus via Getty Images

Save 15%—between $200 to $600 per year—on your heating and cooling expenses by using insulation in your attic, basement, wall, and crawl space areas

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When summer temps soar or a cold snap hits, chances are you start to notice places where your home’s energy efficiency isn’t quite up to snuff. One way you can beat the heat, cozy up from the cold—and pocket some extra cash—is by insulating your home.

Is Attic Insulation Worth It?

You want to make the most cost-effective and necessary renovations for your attic. After all, no one likes feeling overheated or cold from a drafty attic. 

Before you make a decision, you’ll want to consider all the factors at play. Let’s look at the benefits of insulating your attic and whether or not your home needs insulation

The Benefits of Insulating Your Attic

If you’re on the fence about whether your home should have insulation installed, here are some benefits to keep in mind:

  • Lower energy bills: As mentioned, insulation is energy efficient, helping you save as much as 15% on the cost of heating and cooling your home, especially when paired with our top 10 energy-saving tips.

  • Year-round protection: Insulation keeps your house warm in the winter and cool in the summer.

  • More consistent temperatures: You can also reduce drastic temperature changes in your rooms with insulation.

  • Return on investment: Installing insulation increases your home’s market value by more than 100%, making it a worthwhile investment.

  • Cleaner environment: The EPA states that weatherizing one’s home through sealing and insulating reduces dust, pollen, and pollutants, helping alleviate allergies.

Keep in mind: Many of these benefits to having insulation are less effective if your home is not sealed well. Make sure that your home is free from leaks, such as cracks between doors, windows, and pipes, to experience the full perks of your new insulation.

How to Tell If Your House Needs Insulation (Or Extra Insulation)

This might be a no-brainer, but before you invest in insulation, you’ll want to inspect the existing insulation to determine if your house needs more. 

Your home might not have any insulation, or it might have outdated insulation that is no longer effective at moderating the temperatures inside your house. For example, if your home was built in the 1960s or earlier, there’s a good chance that it needs fresh insulation. Not only could your older home lack insulation, but it could also have worn down or bunched up over time, leaving gaps where cold or hot air can pass through.

On a similar note, your home might only need insulation added to the attic, which makes it easier to calculate costs and make a plan.

What are the Different Types of Insulation?

You’ve decided that your home will benefit from insulation. Now what? There are many options for choosing insulation materials. Let’s take a look at the most popular types of materials and insulation forms for homes.

Common Insulation Materials

You may be surprised (but don’t be overwhelmed!) to learn that insulation can consist of a surprising number of materials. Whichever one you choose depends on your budget and personal preferences. Here are the most popular options:

  • Fiberglass: By far, fiberglass is the most popular material used for insulation. Who doesn’t recall the pink, cotton candy-like material so often used in the home improvement sector? This fine glass is a known lung irritant, which means you’ll need to chip in some extra expenses to purchase protection such as eyewear, facemasks, gloves, and long-sleeved clothing.

  • Foam: Foam insulation is either made from cement-based material or poly plastics, which can easily be sprayed into the crevices of hard-to-reach foamboards.

  • Cellulose: A more sustainable alternative to fiberglass and foam is cellulose. Cellulose combines recycled paper and borate to create fire- and insect-resistant insulation.

  • Denim: This expensive but eco-friendly material uses recycled jeans and denim cotton that are non-toxic and easier to install without protective gear.

  • Other natural fibers: Less common options include natural materials like cotton, wool, hemp, and more.

Common Types of Insulation

In addition to the different materials, insulation comes in a variety of forms. The most popular types of insulation include:

  • Loose-fill/blown-in: Loose-fill, or blown-in insulation, is best for areas with an irregular space or can’t easily be reached.

  • Blankets: Blankets come in batts or rolls and are simple enough for a DIY project. They’re also relatively cheap.

  • Foam board: Also known as concrete block installation, foam board insulation is for drywall and usually needs professional installation. This makes foam board more costly as a result. However, they are also more effective at insulating a house than many other types of insulation.

  • Spray foam: As the costliest option, spray foam insulation is both the best for your ROI and the biggest initial investment. Find a local spray foam insulation pro near you.

DIY loft insulation
Chris Henderson / Corbis Documentary via Getty Images

How Much Does It Cost to Insulate a Home?

Let’s be clear here: insulating a house isn’t a small investment. And, with all of the above factors in mind, estimating the cost of your insulation project can give you flashbacks to high school algebra. In short, insulation costs can vary from $1,400 to $6,300.

However, many factors affect the overall cost of your home insulation project:

  • Type of insulation: Spray foam alone can cost as much as $5 a square foot

  • Size of the home: Speaking of cost per square foot, a larger house = a larger investment

  • House layout: Homes with tight spaces or an atypical design might require more professional services to distribute insulation evenly.

  • Service area: If you plan on hiring a local insulation contractor, you’ll need to factor in the local rates in your area to calculate your expenses. Most contractors will also give a free estimate to help you determine costs.

For more information on the breakdown of costs, check out HomeAdvisor’s 2021 insulation cost guide.

Insulation Costs by Type

Once you’ve decided on the type of material, the installation type, and whether or not you need to hire a professional, you should be able to figure out where your expenses might fall. Let’s break down the costs per insulation type:

  • Blown-in insulation: The average cost to install blown-in insulation is $1,498, with prices ranging from $1–$2 per foot.

  • Spray foam insulation: Spray foam insulation comes in at $2,900 on average, ranging from $0.50–$2 per board foot.

  • Batting insulation: Meanwhile, batting or blanket insulation costs fall between $1,000–$2,400, ranging between $0.30–$1.50 per board foot.

To Sum It Up

Insulation costs might seem steep up front, but the amount of money—and complaining from hot or cold family members—you can save in the long run makes installing insulation well worth your while.

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