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This Article Discusses The Number One Way To Lower Heating Costs.

Al’s Plumbing, Heating & A/C in Plano, Texas provides maintenance & repairs for all brands of Central A/C, Gas & Electric Furnace, and Heat Pumps.  Additionally we sell and install new HVAC Systems from American Standard (same company as Trane), Ameristar (same company as American Standard) and Coleman HVAC (same company as York HVAC).

Al’s also provides full service plumbing maintenance, repairs and replacements for every plumbing component in your home.  Al’s sells and installs Rheem Professional Series gas & electric water heaters, and tankless water heaters.  Al’s is near your home in Plano, Allen, and Frisco.  We service all homes in southern Collin and Denton Counties with no travel charges.

Call Al’s today to discuss any concerns or problems you have with your HVAC System or Plumbing.  We will arrange an appointment at your convenience and offer 24/7 Emergency Service.

For Additional Ways To Lower Heating Costs, Click Below:

 AlsPlumbing.com Lower Heating Costs – 20 Uncommon Ways.

 

Lower Heating Costs With Attic Insulation

photo of blown insulation in an attic

Photo Source: Shutterstock

Lower Heating Costs With Adequate Attic Insulation

Increasing Attic Insulation Will Lower Heating Costs Somewhat To Tremendously. base on how much currently exists. 

There Are Great Additional Benefits Too (more on those below)

When needed, adding attic insulation is the best energy-saving home upgrade possible!  Older DFW homes did not have nearly enough attic insulation installed when the home was built.  We detail the insulation building codes for TX over the years below.

Attic insulation keeps on giving forever.  Once installed, it will lower heating costs (and cooling costs), eventually paying for itself through energy-costs savings. Plus it makes the home quieter.  Heated air rises, so the warmest place in the rooms is at the ceiling.  In winter, attic temperature will be slightly warmer than the outdoor temp on sunny days.  Attic temp will be nearly as cold as outdoor temps during the night.  Lower heating costs will be achieved with adequate insulation.

attic turbine vent

Image Source: ShutterStock

Shown: Attic Turbine Vent (where air is removed from the attic)

Attics have 24/7 ventilation to remove humidity.  If your home has “turbine vents” you can see them turning in the winter during the day.  Cooler, outside air is brought into the attic through openings (typically near roof peak / gable as shown below).  In winter, it’s not possible for attic temps to rise notably above outdoor air due to the attic having cool outdoor entering the attic 24/7.

Note:  New homes have attic ventilation, but most don’t have turbine vents.

attic gable vent grill

Image Source: ShutterStock

Shown: Attic Gable Vent Opening Grill-Cover (where air is brought into the attic)

Since warm air rises, the warmest place in every room is at the ceiling.  Since it’s the largest interior surface that is against outdoor temps, it’s the best location to lower heating costs.   Above the ceilings is the attic, which is only slightly warmer than outdoor air during the day and similar to outdoor temp during the night.  Overnight on Tuesday Jan 12, 2018 DFW outdoor temp dropped to single-digit or low teen’s.  This was the lowest overnight temperature in 22 years.  **

** Source: DFW TV 5

If your home’s temperature was  70F degrees overnight on on Jan 12, 2018, the warmest place in the rooms was separated from an attic by only a layer of drywall and inadequate existing attic insulation.   Homes with too little insulation has furnaces running far more than those with adequate insulation.  If the home has electric heat, the cost was even higher.  In summer, DFW attics can reach 160F degrees during summer.

Attic insulation has more impact as the best way to lower heating costs.  Only the top 2-3 feet of the walls touch the warmest air in the room.

Texas Insulation R-Value Over The Years

If you have ever wondered why your heating & cooling costs in an older DFW home are so high, the most significant reason is inadequate attic insulation.  Add attic insulation to lower heating costs, cooling costs and make the HVAC System last longer.

The higher the R-Value, the more insulating ability provided.  Today Texas requires R-38 attic insulation & R-15 wall insulation in newly built homes.

Texas Homes Insulation Levels That Were Common Or Became Required By Building-Code”

           Attic Insulation                           Wall Insulation

  • 1950’s: none                                     none
  • 1965-1970: R-13 (3.5″ BATT)      Wall Insulation: R-6 (2″ BATT)
  • 1970’s: R-19 (6″ BATT)                  Wall R-6  (2″ BATT)     *3
  • 1980’s: R-30 (9″ Blown)                Wall R-13 (3.5″ BATT) *4
  • 2014:    R-38 (15″ Blown)               Wall R-15                        *5
  • *3 Source: https://snuggpro.com/blog/item/many-homes-built-prior-to-1980-were-built-without-insulation-in-the-walls
  • *4 Source: https://www.jlconline.com/how-to/insulation-code-change_o
  • *5 As required by the 2012 Edition of the International Building Code (IBC)

The R-Value Of Attic Blown Insulation Can Diminish Over Time

  • It’s common for workers to kick insulation out of their way while working in the attic. 
  • It’s likely blown insulation has settled some over the years.

Click Below To See A Large Area Of The Attic With Missing Insulation In A Texas Home: 

Large Area Of Missing Attic Insulation In TX Home

Click Below To See A Thermal-Image Of A Room’s Ceiling Where Insulation Is Missing In The Attic:  

Thermal-Image Of Missing Attic Insulation

Note: Yellow = Warm Surface.  Purple = Cold Surface

TX Building Code Requirement & U.S. Dept. Of Energy (DOE) Recommendations

  •   1 inch of blown fiberglass insulation R-value = 2.5 
  • R-38: 15 inch layer of blown fiberglass insulation to meet current Texas Building Code
  • R-49: 20 inch layer for DOE minimum recommendation
  • R-60: 24 inch layer for DOE maximum recommendation

TIP: When adding insulation, ask the contractor for R-38 bid & R-60 bid.  The additional charge may be less than you expect.   It costs the same amount of money for the contractor to come to your home and set up + tear down the equipment.  The contractor’s additional costs are for more insulation material + nominally larger labor costs.  Additionally, insulation (exceeding the R-38 minimum) will result in increasingly lower heating costs.

Adding Attic Insulation Offers These Benefits

  • Insulation will pay for itself in a few years in the form or both lower heating costs and cooling costs.
  • Less demand on the HVAC System makes it last longer.
  • Makes the home more temperate and comfortable.  There will be fewer “hot spots” or “cold spots”
  • Makes the home quieter.

Why Choose To Insulate Above R-38?

Reduction Of Noise Coming Into Rooms From The Attic.

Lower heating costs is the primary reason to add attic insulation.  A free side-effect comes in the form of a quieter house.  Adding attic insulation helps to reduce the noise coming into the living space through the ceilings (such as air-traffic over your home).

Volume Level (in decibels) For Common Noises: 

  •   25 db Whisper
  •   50 db Typical Conversation & Refrigerator
  •   65 db Washing Machine & Hair Dryer
  •   70 db Vacuum Cleaner & Freeway Traffic
  •  80 db Garbage Disposal & Doorbell
  •  94 db Lawn Mower & Shouted Conversation
  • 110 db Leaf Blower & Rock Concert
  • 115 db Thunder & Football Stadium
  • 120 db Pain threshold
  • 150 db Firecracker & Balloon Pop

Adding Blown Fiberglass Insulation For Noise Reduction

Attic With Blown Insulation:

STC is a numeric rating of how a building product reduces airborne sound.

  • STC  10.5       R-38 / 15″ of Fiberglass Blown insulation
  • STC  16.5       R-60 / 24″ of Fiberglass Blown insulation
  • An R-38 insulated ceiling would have about 1/2 less noise transfer (into rooms below) than an attic with no insulation.
  • An R-60 insulated ceiling would have about 2/3 less noise transfer (into rooms below) than an attic with no insulation.
  • <-5 db: none or barely noticeable lowering of volume *10
  •    -5db: One-Quarter lowering of volume (for a person with normal hearing) *10
  •  -10db: One-Half lowering of volume (for a person with normal hearing) *10
  • STC 55+ is considered excellent noise control.

NOTE: If adding attic insulation does not provide the level of noise reduction you desire, your money is still well spent due to lower heating costs.  We show R-Values of blown attic insulation above.

Additional Steps To Reduce Noise-Transmission Through Walls & Ceilings

If Adding Additional Blown Fiberglass Insulation Is Not Enough 

If you don’t feel insulation above R-38 will lower heating costs enough to justify the extra expense, consider if you hear air or road traffic noise in your home.

Noise coming into your home through your attic can come from a number of sources.  The most common are Air-Traffic Noise (depends on where you live within DFW) and Road-Traffic noise.

Noise Coming Into Your Home

The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) determined that noise level below 65dB is generally compatible with residential development. At 65 dB & higher, homes need varying levels of sound insulation treatments to ensure noise levels inside the house are sufficiently reduced.

Click Here To See Dallas Love Field Sound-Level Contour (Page 12 of 56): Dallas Love Field Noise (Page 12 of 56)

  • U.S. Dept. Of Defense (DOD) determined noise level up to 65db as compatible with a residential neighborhood.
  •  150db: Jet take-off at 85 feet altitude
  • 100db: Jet take-off at 1,000 foot altitude
  •    97db: Boeing 737 or DC-9 aircraft at one nautical mile (6080 ft) altitude before landing

Source: http://www.dallas-lovefield.com/pdf/2016_DNL_Contour_Reports.pdf  (Page 11 of 56)

  • 101db: Love Field peak noise level in the Sound-Contour
  • Planes fly overhead 16 times per hour during the daytime at Love Field Airport.

Source: https://www.chem.purdue.edu/chemsafety/Training/PPETrain/dblevels.htm

 

Click Below To See Noise-Contours Map For Love Field & DFW Intl.

Love Field & DFW Intl. Noise-Contours

 

The U.S. Federal Highway Administration states:

  • Highway traffic noise is typically 70 to 80 dB at a distance of 50 feet from the highway.
  • Most people prefer noise level inside their home to be no more than 45dB.

Source: https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/publications/publicroads/03jul/06.cfm

Noise-Reduction Ability Of Various Home Components 

Exterior Doors & Windows allow the largest noise-transfer into your home — but they are a small amount of the home’s exterior surface.

  • STC-55: Considered Excellent Noise Control
  • STC-27  Single-Pane window glass
  • STC-32 Dual-Pane window glass
  • STC-31 Triple-Pane window glass
  • STC-50+ window glass required for 90% noise-reduction
  • STC-25 Exterior Door

Exterior Walls Do A Good Job With Noise-Reduction:

  • STC-35: Non-brick exterior walls
  • STC-45: Brick exterior walls

A Pitched Roof Over An Attic Does A Good Job With Noise-Reduction (similar to exterior walls): 

  • STC-40: Detached Home Roof with Common Asphalt Shingle Roofing Material.
  • STC-45: Detached Home Roof with Clay Tile Roofing Material.
  • STC-34: Detached Home Roof with Wood-Shake Roofing Material.
  • STC-10.5: R-38 / 15″ of Fiberglass Blown insulation
  • STC-16.5: R-60 / 24″ of Fiberglass Blown insulation

Source: https://metrocouncil.org/Transportation/Publications-And-Resources/Aviation/Builders-Guide-Mitigating-Aircraft-Noise-in-New-Re.aspx (Page 15 of 48)

2 Ways To Reduce Noise Coming Into A Space

If you have attic insulation at R-38 or higher, and you still hear too much noise coming through the ceiling into the rooms, consider additional sound-reduction at the room’s ceilings.

  • Sound Absorption: A Porous material which acts as a ‘noise sponge’.
  • This can be increased by adding more fiberglass insulation in the attic.
  • Sound Blocker:  A dense material that allows less noise to travel through it.
  • This is often done by adding additional layers of drywall to existing walls.
  • This can also be a solution for ceilings in a home with excessive overhead noise-transmission through the ceilings.
  • Mass Loaded Vinyl (MLV) barriers are composed of salts, sands, & tiny metal particles that give it sound-absorbing properties. MLV soundproofing adds dense mass so sound waves are increasingly blocked from passing through ceilings & walls.  Mass Loaded Vinyl has an STC of 20 and up!

  Click On Image To: See Product, View Details, or Purchase from Amazon.com

SHOWN: Mass Loaded Vinyl with STC 27 rating.

  • 1/16″ MLV = STC 20 — weighs 1/2 pound per square foot
  • 1/8″ MLV = STC 26 — weights 1 pound / SF
  • 1/4″ MLV = STC 33 — weights 2 pounds / SF
  • For New Walls: MLV is applied beneath the drywall & covers the insulation and lumber inside the wall.
  • Existing Walls: Mass Loaded Vinyl can be installed over existing drywall, and covered with a 2nd layer of drywall.
  • Existing Ceilings:  Add a second layer of 5/8″ drywall + MLV (applied to the drywall just before installing it) would create tremendous noise-transmission reduction.

STC Of Interior Walls:

  • Typical residential interior wall just below.
  • STC 27   2 x 4″ Interior wall with 1/2″ drywall (uninsulated) *9
  • The Mass Loaded Vinyl Product Shown Above Doubles the STC to 54.
  • STC-38  same wall above + 3.5″ fiberglass Batt insulation
  • STC-32  2 x 4″ Interior Wall With 5/8″ Drywall (uninsulated) *9
  • STC-43 same wall above + 3.5″ fiberglass Batt insulation
  • STC-55 2×4 wall with Double layer 1/2″ drywall on each side + 3.5″ fiberglass batt insulation
  • *6 Source: http://www.usiinc.com/blog/insulation/insulation-product-knowledge-and-applications/
  • *7 & 8 Source: https://isostore.com/research/reducing-exterior-noise/
  • *9 Source: https://www.buildgp.com/GypsumAssemblies.aspx?ShowAll=True
  • *10 Source: http://nationalfiber.com/docs/STCGuidelinesForCelluloseInsulation1209.pdf

Insulate The Attic Ceiling?

The problem with insulating an attic ceiling is moisture potentially becoming trapped.  If the roof ever leaks, moisture can be trapped within  (fiberglass) insulation or between (foam) insulation and the wood roof-deck (what the singles are nailed to).   In existing homes, the potential risk likely outweighs the benefits.

The attic is ventilated when the home is built.  Unless you choose to seal the attic, you will not achieve notably lower heating costs by insulating the attic ceiling.  Additionally, sealing attics requires ensuring humidity does not get into the attic from the living space, which requires additional sealing efforts.

In the Sun-Belt, a generally accepted energy-saving improvement for the attic ceiling is a Radiant-Heat Barrier.  It can be painted on, or a FOIL attached to the bottom of the lumber the roof-deck is nailed to.  It will be left open at the top & bottom so hot air can rise between the foil and roof deck.  The heat rises and is removed by the attic ventilation located at the top of the attic’s ceiling.  While a radiant-heat barrier doesn’t lower heating costs in DFW, it will notably lower cooling costs.

 Click On Image To: See Product, View Details, or Purchase from Amazon.com

SHOWN: Foil Radiant-Heat Barrier

Click Here To See A Diagram Showing Radiant-Heat Barrier Installation: Radiant-Heat Barrier Installation

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Al’s Plumbing, Heating & A/C in Plano, Texas provides maintenance & repairs for all brands of Central A/C, Gas & Electric Furnace, and Heat Pumps.  Additionally we sell and install new HVAC Systems from American Standard (same company as Trane), Ameristar (same company as American Standard) and Coleman HVAC (same company as York HVAC).

Al’s also provides full service plumbing maintenance, repairs and replacements for every plumbing component in your home.  Al’s sells and installs Rheem Professional Series gas & electric water heaters, and tankless water heaters.  Al’s is near your home in Wylie, Murphy & Rowlette.   We service all homes in southern Collin and Denton Counties with no travel charges.

Call Al’s today to discuss any concerns or problems you have with your HVAC System or Plumbing.  We will arrange an appointment at your convenience and offer 24/7 Emergency Service.