The Basics of Insulation and Ventilation

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At The HeatBusters, our goal is to optimize attic energy efficiency. Controlling the temperature of the home starts and ends in the attic space. Ultimately, our insulation and ventilation products are designed to maintain your home’s desired internal temperature for as long as possible. Fiberglass insulation is the last line of defense from an unwanted air exchange occurring between the controlled temperature inside the home and the extreme, uncontrolled atmosphere of the attic space. The HeatBusters aims to remove this workload from the insulation.

Insulation is Your Home’s “Sponge”

Consider the following example when understanding what insulation actually does. Think of a sponge you would use to clean. Place the sponge in the sink and turn the water on. That sponge will absorb as much water as it possibly can. Once the maximum potential is reached, excess water will begin to leak into the sink. Insulation behaves in the same manner with hot and cold air: it can only absorb so much. The thicker the sponge, the more water it can hold. The thicker the insulation level, the longer it will prevent air from exchanging between the interior and exterior of the home.

Using the same sponge example above, what would happen if we turn down the faucet and reduce the amount of water that the sponge must absorb? Naturally, this would result in water leaking into the sink less quickly. Adding a radiant barrier to an attic space does the same thing as turning down the pressure. But instead of water, it is turning down the temperature in the attic. The difference can be substantial. On a 100° day, a radiant barrier generally results in insulation only combatting 110° air in the attic, as opposed to 150° air. The barrier essentially reduces the “pressure” coming from outside and optimizes the performance of the insulation.

Ventilation: How Does it Work?

The importance of attic ventilation is the number one priority when discussing attic energy efficiency. An attic space must have fresh air coming in and hot air going out. Exhaust vents are almost always installed on the roof – this is where hot air escapes. Vents typically found underneath the eaves of the home are called soffit vents. These soffit vents are where fresh, cool air enters the home. There are many different types of roof exhaust vents available: from ridge vents to “whirly bird” turbines to a simple static or passive roof vent.

The beauty of ventilation is that it is not a guessing game. There are equations that energy efficiency experts use to find how much ventilation is needed to properly vent a particular area. One square foot of air intake, or soffit venting, is enough ventilation for a 150 square foot area. One square foot of static/passive roof exhaust venting is enough exhaust ventilation for a 50 square foot area. One 14” ‘whirly bird’ turbine is enough exhaust ventilation for a 300 square foot area. And so on.

Our Experience = Positive Results

Not all roofers and builders use these equations, but The HeatBusters do, based on 15 years of experience and the many conversations we have had with industry experts. There are no legal requirements within Texas building inspections that pertain to proper attic ventilation. But we believe our reasoning to be simple and sound: in Texas, you must have vents on the roof if you want a real chance at keeping your home cool when it’s hot and warm when it’s cold.

A primary focus of The HeatBusters’ insulation and ventilation services and products is to optimize attic ventilation to set your home’s insulation up for success. Contact us today to discuss your energy efficiency needs!