New This Year: Fiberglass Attic Insulation
We’ve been asked for years to add an energy efficiency project to Cost vs. Value, but we’ve hesitated to do so because such projects often measure their payback in years, while the value part of Cost vs. Value is meant to reflect resale value within 12 months of the project. The influence that geography plays in energy projects also daunted us, as did the fact that lots of utilities and governmental entities have incentive programs that can artificially reduce installation costs. But ultimately we decided to take the leap, and boy are we glad we did.
The fiberglass attic insulation project produced the top return on cost of any of the 30 projects in this year’s Cost vs. Value group. Our cost source, RemodelMAX, estimated the project would cost an average of $1,268 nationwide. Real estate professionals responding to our survey estimated that work would increase the price of a home at resale, within a year of the project’s completion, by $1,482. That’s a 116.9% return.
The project calls for a pro remodeler to air-seal a 35×30 attic floor to address any air leakage from conditioned space to unconditioned space. Then the pro would add fiberglass loosefill insulation, placing it on top of existing insulation if present. Fiberglass loosefill would be applied until thickness equating with R-30 insulation value is reached. The North American Insulation Manufacturers Association helped come up with that language.
Sticklers might note that R-30 falls short of modern energy codes in much of the United States and simultaneously goes beyond the code in other regions, so the amount of loosefill insulation that you’d recommend installing will vary. But one vital part of Cost vs. Value is that we seek to give costs for the same project from coast to coast; that enables us to spot local differences. We stuck to that model.