Homeowners in Florida don’t think about insulation the same way those up north do. When it’s below freezing and your home feels like an igloo, it’s easy to imagine you need better insulation. But down here, when it’s very, very hot we assume either our AC isn’t up to the job, it’s old, or it can’t be helped.
Often, it’s not the AC unit at fault. If your home isn’t retaining the cool, dense air and the hot air is penetrating it, your unit may be stretched to capacity. However, if you have a very efficient unit you might not even notice. You won’t have a clue how hard your air conditioner is working until you see your first electric bill of the summer. Before you call in the 24 hour emergency A/C repair, take a look at your attic and at your ducts. If cool air is coming out of your vents, the problem most likely won’t be solved by AC repair.
What to Look for in Insulation
The r-value is the most important piece in determining how resistant the insulation is to heat transfer. A higher r-value, means better insulation. In Florida, you’re looking for an r-value of between 30-60.
There are multiple kinds of insulation but for brevity we’ll assume you have one of the two most popular types, rolled-in insulation or blown-in. Rolled-in insulation comes in pre-cut rolls or batts and works nicely around joists and beams. It comes lined or unlined with paper or aluminum facing. Batts tend to be used on walls, while rolls cover attic floors. They’re made out of fiberglass or rock wool. Blown-in, or loose-fill, insulation is made from fiberglass or recycled paper and, as the name suggests, is blown in with a machine. You’ll want to check for a depth of at least 12 inches, preferably 15-20. If you can see ceiling joists, you’re paying to cool your neighborhood.
When you have a good r-value and an adequate amount of insulation, not only will your home be more comfortable but your AC system will run more efficiently and reduce your (heating and) cooling costs.
If your house insulation is five years old or older, you need to check it for inefficiencies. Even if you chose the most expensive insulation at the time, water can leak in, and separation and patches can occur. It’s a good rule of thumb to check it every 5 years or so, or if you see an unusually high electric bill.
Your insulation should be dry, free from critters, and evenly spread throughout your attic. If you find this not to be the case replace the sections affected. Often it’s easier to see issues with your roof because of dampness in your insulation. A small leak can destroy insulation long before you notice it in the wooden joist.
Ducts Need Love Too
While this article is about the insulation in your attic, your ducts also require a wrap to avoid heat transfer. If your ducts are warm, your AC is not able to run as efficiently. Many homeowners call out AC repair & maintenance thinking it’s their AC when it’s really poorly insulated ductwork.
If you’re wondering about your insulation and the effectiveness of your AC, give Easy A/C a call - Tampa’s AC repair & maintenance professionals.