Published on December 10th, 2014 | by Peter Young


How To Measure Your Attic’s Insulation


A great way to ensure that your home is using energy efficiently is to be sure that your attic is insulated properly. Did you know that a properly insulated home can save roughly 20% of a homes annual heating and cooling costs? Its true. Thankfully, measuring your attics insulation is a very straight forward and easy task, and doesn’t require any special training to do so. Just follow these easy steps to ensure that your attic is sufficiently insulated:

Things you’ll need for the job:

  • A Ruler

How to measure your attic’s insulation


Before proceeding with the measurement of your attics insulation let’s take a quick look at the different types of insulation you may find:

Cellulose Insulation – This type of insulation is made from recycled paper which has been treated with a flame retardant, and is blown into either attics or walls. This type of insulation has a higher R-value per square foot when compared to loose blown or rolls of Fiberglass Insulation. What this means, is that you can achieve the same R-value with less insulation. However, it is important to note that loose blown insulation (regardless of type) will settle over time, and that the initial depth of the insulation will be higher (by roughly 10-13%) than is necessary. The baseline R-value for cellulose insulation is 3.8 per inch.

Fiberglass Insulation –  This type of insulation is made from fiberglass and is typically installed by cutting large strips off of a larger roll and it is then secured into place using a staple gun. This type of insulation has a lower R-value when compared to cellulose insulation, and as a result, you will need a greater depth of material in order to achieve your home’s desired R-value. The baseline R-value for fiberglass insulation is 3.2 per inch.

Now let’s take a look at how to measure your attic’s insulation (regardless of type):

1. Take your ruler and push it down through your insulation. Simply take your ruler and push it down through or next to your attic’s insulation. Then take note of how far down the ruler goes before hitting the bottom of your insulation.

2. Repeat the first step at several different spots in your attic. It’s important that your attic is properly (and evenly) insulated across the entire area of the attic. Be sure to check several different locations to ensure that your attic is evenly insulated.

3. Multiply the depth of your attic’s insulation by it’s corresponding R-value.  If your attic is filled with cellulose insulation, you’ll multiply your depth by 3.8. If it’s insulated by fiberglass you’ll multiply it by 3.2. Now, take your number and compare it to the following graphic to see if your attic is properly insulated.

Screen shot 2014-11-24 at 1.03.17 PM

If you’re attic is coming up short, consider having a local professional come in and add insulation to your home’s attic.

If you’re looking for more ways to make your home more energy efficient, be sure to check out our green home improvement projects: Green Living Ideas, after all, is a top 20 home improvement website!

Photo courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons (Attic Insulation)

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About the Author

graduated from Pacific Lutheran University (PLU) with a degree in journalism and has made sustainability and eco-conscious living mainstays of both his professional and personal life. It was during his time at PLU that he began his journey with sustainability and it's what has led him to writing for Green Living Ideas. He currently resides in Honolulu and works for Pono Home, an energy efficiency company focused on reducing carbon emissions and promoting a healthier, greener lifestyle.

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