Adding insulation to your attic is one of the most effective ways to save money on electricity bills and make your home energy efficient.
However, there are many things to consider when applying attic insulation, as it involves buying the right equipment, knowing how much material to buy, and hiring the right type of labor. Not only that, there are federal, state, and local regulations regarding home insulation that needs to be taken into account before embarking on this process.
New York homeowners will need to optimize these various components to make sure they’re getting the best possible attic insulation for their homes. In this article, we discuss which components New York residents need to keep an eye on to make sure their attic stays cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter.
New York Attic Insulation Guide
What type of insulation is best for New York attics?
Depending on which parts of your attic you’re trying to insulate, we recommend two different types of insulation material.
For attic floors, there are two main types of insulation: roll and batt insulation and loose-fill or blown-in insulation. Batt and roll work best between joist and stud spaces, or for wide-open spaces or crawl spaces. Blown-in insulation works best for extremely tight spaces, or if an area already has insulation installed but needs a little more to top it off. They’re also useful for filling wood joists, as they allow air through the spaces and require insulation.
Get a free attic inspection and quote to insulate your attic.
In New York, it’s more likely than not that your attic is going to need insulation in tight spaces. Blown-in insulation is perfect for that scenario, as it provides better coverage in smaller areas and is less expensive than roll and batt insulation. You can purchase fiberglass or cellulose insulation, whichever you prefer. Just remember that installing blown-in insulation is going to require a special machine that you’ll likely need to rent.
For insulation under your roof, we recommend using multi-layer reflective insulation. That might sound complicated, but we assure you it’s quite simple and is extremely beneficial for efficiently heating or cooling your home.
During the summer months, the sun’s radiant energy heats your roof shingles, which then transfers that heat into your attic through conduction. Your attic then becomes much hotter and stuffy, and the heat travels down into the rest of your home, making the entire house hot. During the winter, it has the opposite effect, as the heat generated by your heaters escapes through the attic walls.
Multi-layer reflective insulation addresses this issue by reflecting radiant heat rather than letting your attic absorb it. Thus, radiant heat can’t get through your attic roof and walls as easily, allowing your attic and the rest of your home to be better air-conditioned. During the winter, the heat generated from inside will also be reflected back into the attic and home, making your home that much warmer.
July is the hottest month of the year in New York with average high temperatures of 75°F (23.9°C) to 85°F (29.4°C).
New York City experiences many days that cross 95°F (35°C), while a few even touch the psychological barrier of 100°F (37.8°C). Downstate New York is hot and sultry with a temperature of mostly 85°F (29.4°C) as an occasional shower makes an appearance with the rise in humidity and cloud cover.
Knowing which materials to use is a key step in the process. The subsequent component deals with just how much attic insulation you’re going to need for your New York home.
How much attic insulation do you need in New York?
To determine how much insulation you’re going to need, measure the length times the width of the attic or whichever space you’re trying to insulate to get the square footage. For blown-in insulation, reference the back of the package to determine the proper height to get the correct R-value for your project.
The R-value is a measurement of thermal resistance, or how much the insulation can properly resist heat flow. The higher the R-value, the better the insulation will be in keeping warm air in or out of your attic.
Depending on where you are in the United States, the R-value that you’ll need is going to differ due to varying climate conditions. In fact, there are 8 different climate zones designated by the U.S. Department of Energy that has different R-value recommendations for attics, basements, and other walls. Due to the differences in climate between different parts of New York, the state is split into three climate zones.
Climate Zone 4 includes Bronx, Kings, Nassau, New York, Queens, Richmond, Suffolk, and Westchester. For Zone 4, a ceiling R-value of 49 is recommended, whereas the floor R-value should be at least 19.
Climate Zone 5 includes Albany, Columbia, Dutchess, Niagara, Saratoga, and Tioga. For Zone 5, a ceiling R-value of 49 is recommended, whereas the floor R-value should be at least 30.
Climate Zone 6 includes Allegany, Delaware, Fulton, Otsego, Schoharie, Ulster, and Warren. For Zone 6, a ceiling R-value of 49 is recommended, whereas the floor R-value should be at least 30.
Some counties might experience harsher seasonal variations and therefore require higher R-value insulation. The R-value will also depend on whether or not there is already insulation installed in your attic prior to the procedure. Typically, attics without any prior insulation is going to require higher R-values for better insulation.
Thus, square footage and R-values are important determinants of how much insulation you’re going to need for your attic. If you’re unsure about exactly how much insulation you’re going to need, there are R-value calculators online, or you can call a contractor for an accurate quote.
How much does attic insulation cost in New York?
Once you’ve figured out what insulation you need and how much needs to be installed, you’re on your way to contacting a contractor and starting the process. But before you do so, it’s important to understand the costs involved with attic insulation.
Get a free attic inspection and quote to insulate your attic.
Generally speaking, attic insulation can cost anywhere from $1,700 to $2,100, or between $2.50 to $4.00 per foot, depending on the material you choose and how much space you need to cover. As we noted earlier, blown-in insulation is the cheapest option. However, contractors often charge around $90 an hour, and in some cases you might need to hire an electrician to make sure you aren’t disrupting any junction boxes or cables when insulating the attic. Electricians charge up to $125 an hour.
For New York homes, the cost of insulating your attic doesn’t necessarily vary a whole lot, but it’s still important to research average costs depending on where you live. Every house is going to be different, and every city or county is going to have different code regulations. Make sure you check your local building codes for not only R-values but also vapor barrier requirements.
For example, homeowners in New York City, New York paid on average $1,903 for attic insulation. Compare that to another city in New York, say Syracuse, the average cost is about $1,574.
Manta’s database estimates attic insulation costs based on each city in New York, making it a reliable tool for determining your budget. Even Manta, however, recognizes that their estimates do not include things like permit costs, inspection fees, and labor fees, as that often varies depending on location and contractor rates.
Before contacting a professional to start applying insulation, ask yourself these questions about attic-dependent work outside of insulation:
- Is everything in your attic air sealed? Do you need to fix your ductwork to prevent moisture buildup?
- Does your attic have good ventilation? Does everything that’s ventilating into the attic have a way out of it?
- Is there any mold in your attic? Have you contracted someone to come remove said mold?
If you have all of these bases covered, your attic insulation budget will be far more accurate. Contractors will also have an easier time getting your attic checked and insulated if you’ve taken care of the listed components.
Incentives, tax credits, rebates, and savings programs
Here are some programs that are available to New York homeowners looking to add insulation:
Energy Star Assisted Home Performance Program
Each year, New York State homeowners waste hundreds of dollars in energy. Many feel powerless in the face of high energy bills and are unaware of what they can do to control these costs. The Assisted Home Performance with ENERGY STAR program makes it easy and affordable to make the smart investment in a more energy-efficient home, helping income-eligible homeowners across the State lower their energy bills and live more comfortably all year long.
It provides those who qualify with a discount covering 50% of the cost of eligible energy efficiency improvements up to $5,000 per project for single-family homes. Two- to four-unit residential homes with income-eligible residents may qualify for a discount of up to $10,000. Learn more about benefits for two- to four-unit residential homes.
EmPower New York
EmPower New York provides no-cost energy efficiency solutions to income-eligible New Yorkers. Nearly 160,000 of your neighbors are saving energy and saving money with EmPower New York — without spending a dime. Whether you own your home or rent, a participating contractor [PDF] will be assigned to you to assess if your home would benefit from free energy upgrades such as:
- Home energy assessment to identify areas of possible energy improvements
- Tips on how to save energy
- Installation of high-efficiency lighting
- Attic and wall insulation
- Replacement of old, inefficient refrigerators and freezers
- Water-saving showerheads
- A monthly electric bill credit of between $5-$15 from community solar.
EmPOWER programs have the potential to provide cost-effective long-term benefits, including reduced energy consumption and rates, avoided investments in energy transmission and distribution, job creation, and improvements to the environment.
EmPOWER programs are managed by the following companies: PSEG Long Island, Central Hudson, Con Edison, National Fuel, National Grid (Upstate, Metro and Long Island), NYSEG, Orange and Rockland, and Rochester Gas & Electric.
Programs include lighting and appliance rebates for homeowners, Home Performance with ENERGY STAR (including home energy assessments and 50% rebates for energy improvements like insulation and air sealing), commercial lighting rebates, and energy efficiency services for industrial facilities. If you are a residential, commercial, or industrial customer, you can find incentives offered by your utility on the EmPOWER website.
How to hire a New York attic insulation contractor
Once you’ve figured out your attic insulation cost, what types of insulation you need, and how much of it that’s needed, it’s most likely time to find the contractor who can handle the process.
Get an attic inspection
An insulation contractor will be able to properly inspect your attic and decide the necessary steps to take for updating your home’s insulation. You can consult with contractors about what type of insulation to use, R-values, and many of the other components we discussed earlier.
Get a free attic inspection and quote to insulate your attic.
But choosing the right contractor is going to make or break the process, and it can be difficult to choose between tens of dozens of professionals who claim that they’re the best in the business. We’ve identified a few things to keep in mind when hiring an attic insulation contractor.
Make sure they are thorough
First and foremost, pick someone who is thorough and transparent about your attic. If your contractor comes by your house for an inspection, and they perform various diagnostic tests and look through every corner of your attic, that’s an indication of their experience and reliability. Beware of contractors who take a quick peek in your attic and simply suggest putting in a few inches of insulation. A good contractor should initiate conversations about your attic’s insulation and ventilation issues, and provide detailed steps on how to move forward.
Check online reviews
But don’t base your decision on just a single interaction with the contractor. Go online and look through their services and offers. If they provide things like lifetime warranties, that means a contractor is not only confident in their work, they’re willing to follow up on their services to make sure you’re getting your money’s worth. Check their online reviews as well to see what others are saying about a contractor. If reviews are generally positive, that’s a sign of a reliable contractor.
Attic insulation is anything but simple, but New York homeowners will greatly benefit from doing the proper research and spending their money on the right services and products. A properly insulated attic translates into a much more comfortable and energy-efficient home.