– With the cold season upon us, we thought it is important to write about home insulation. It’s something that most people never give any thought to. But, hidden in the walls of your home is an added layer of protection from the outdoor elements. One recent report by the North American Insulation Manufacturers Association stated that approximately 90 percent of all existing homes lack enough insulation. Jonathan Levy, a professor of Environmental Health at Boston University School of Public Health stated, “If all U.S. homes were fitted with insulation based on the 2012 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC), residential electricity use nationwide would drop by about 5% and natural gas use by more than 10%.”
Choosing the right type of insulation for your home will depend on your local climate, home design, how it is used and your budget. If you have an attic, crawlspace or basement, then adding additional home insulation to the space can be a cost-effective way to save more on your energy bills.
Types of Insulation
While there are a variety of materials that insulation can be made from, it typically is available in four different types:
Foam-in-Place: Foam-in-place is an easy do-it-yourself project for homeowners that can be done with a small pressurized can. It is typically used to fill in small holes and cracks around door frames, windows, plumbing or electrical.
Loose-Fill: Loose-fill is primarily made up of rock wool, fiberglass or cellulose that are in the form of fiber pellets or loose fibers. Special pneumatic equipment is utilized to blow the loose-fill insulation into place.
Rigid Foam: Typically the most expensive of all home insulation types, rigid foam can be an effective option and also provides greater insulation. This type of insulation is most commonly used for special applications as well as interior or exterior wall sheathing.
Rolls and Batts: Also known as blankets. This type of insulation is made from mineral fibers and is available in sizes that fit the standard spacing of wall studs, attic joists or floor joists.
What is the R-Value?
The R-value is a measurement to determine the insulation’s resistance to heat flow. The recommended ‘R-value’ will vary from one home to the next as climates and heating/cooling systems differ. R-values range from zero to forty (sometimes even higher). The higher that the R-value is, the greater the insulating effectiveness it provides. The United States Department of Energy estimates that nearly half of a typical home’s utility bills are spent on cooling and heating. Ensuring that air is not leaking into your home through windows, doors and other openings can significantly help cut costs on utilities. Additional benefits of a well-insulated home include better humidity control, less dust, pollen and insects as well as noise reduction. When all of the gaps, leaks and holes are added together in a typical home’s envelope, it is the equivalent of having a window open each day of the year. If you are curious about how much insulation your home needs you can look it up on the U.S. Department of Energy Recommended Total R-Values for New Wood-Framed Houses here (http://www.energy.gov/energysaver/tips-insulation). Additionally, if you have an attic in your home, you may be able to save more money on energy bills. The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that between 10 to 50 percent can be saved off of a heating bill just by having a properly insulated attic. It’s worth having a professional insulation company come and look at your home to make sure that it does have the proper insulation needed. Energy auditors can also perform this task as well as provide you with other great tips to save energy. With the cold season rolling in take the time to make sure your home has the correct insulation.
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