Is Your Home Properly Insulated?
According to data from the U.S. Department of Energy, up to 70% of the energy that you’re using every day goes to either heating or cooling your home. This energy is used to create a consistently comfortable atmosphere so that we can enjoy our homes, spend time with our families, and basically have fun with life! What if there was a way that you could still create that comfy atmosphere inside you home, but cut down on your energy consumption?
It’s possible when you have your home properly insulated. Although many new homes do meet coding standards for insulation, many older homes have areas that aren’t insulated whatsoever. Without insulation, your utility bills are going to be going through the roof, right along with your warm air in winter!
How Can I Tell What Insulation I Need?
There are four basic things that you need to determine regarding the insulation that is in your home:
Where is the insulation needed? Does your basement always feel cold? Is your upstairs always sweltering? Do you have that one room you stay out of in the winter time because you could make popsicles in there? These are all indications that you either have the wrong insulation installed… or no insulation in there whatsoever.
A cold basement and/or a warm upstairs likely means that there is very little, if any insulation between the flooring of the top floor and the ceiling of the basement. A cold room can indicate a lack of insulation above the ceiling in that room, the wrong insulation in the walls, or a lack of insulation in the walls.
What R-value of insulation is needed? This is when you need to know about the R-value of the insulation. In basic terms, the higher the R-value, the more resistant the insulation is going to be to temperature changes. Higher numbers will perform better than lower numbers. Different R-values are going to be used for different parts of your home as well, as the attic needs a different kind of insulation, for example, than your interior walls will.
You will also need to check your local weather zones to determine what minimum levels of R-value insulation will help to keep your home comfortable all year long. Your home’s physical location influences the R-value of the insulation just as much as the physical location within the home does.
What type of insulation is needed? There are two basic types of insulation: rolled insulation and blown-in insulation. You can also get “batts,” which are a rolled type of insulation with a paper backing or foam boards to insulate. Blown-in insulation is usually reserved for the roof, but can be used for all insulated areas of the home during construction. Many people are familiar with the “batts” type of insulation.
How much insulation is needed? To calculate how much insulation you’ll need, you’ll need to measure out the square footage of the area you plan on insulating, which is determined by multiplying width by length. You’ll then need to check what R-value you need for the insulation in your planned installation area.
Do I Need Insulation Because I’ve Got Air Leaks Coming Through?
That cold or hot air is always seeking out a way to come into your home! Insulating your attic, walls, and between floors can help to regulate the temperature of your home, but that won’t stop that cold or hot outside air from trying to find a way in to bother you. Sometimes air leaks into a room can be so bad that even the installed insulation won’t be able to combat the problem.
In order to fix an air leaking problem, you’ve got to stop that leak somehow. One of the easiest ways to do this is through the use of instant foam insulation products. Check around all of your exterior fixtures, windows, and door frames to determine if you have air leaking into your home. If you do, then a foam insulation sprayed into the leak itself will help block it and reduce the robbery of your utilities.
Some areas where incoming air leaks can be found may not seem so obvious:
- wiring that enters your home from the exterior, such as with a satellite television system;
- air vents in your attic that are in the exterior wall of the home, as well as other piping in your attic that goes to the roof, like a water line for a swamp cooler; and
- your ventilation system that transports warm or cool air throughout the home.
By properly controlling the flow of air, you’ll be able to keep your home’s temperature more regulated, and that will help to lower your utility bills almost immediately.
How Do You Insulate To Get the Best Results?
The problem that many homeowners unwittingly create is they turn their home into one large, giant chimney. This is done by insulating the exterior of the home properly, but using the wrong insulation or not bothering to insulate other areas of the home. If your hot air is always near your top floor, then here are some areas to consider checking for the right R-value of insulation:
- between floor joists
- above Recessed lighting
- the furnace flue
To maximize the energy efficiency of your home through insulation, you may wish to consider insulating your water heater as well. Up to 10% of your water heating costs are to reheat water that has already been heated, so using a sleeve or jacket that is specially designed for your water heater can help to reduce that heat waste by up to 45%. Can’t find a sleeve or jacket that works for your water heater? You can create your own using R-8 insulation.
Don’t forget about insulating your water pipes too! Heat loss occurs through the transport of hot water, causing many homeowners to set their water heaters to a higher setting. With properly insulated pipes, you can often set your water temperature to a cooler temperature, thus saving on your utility cost even more.
Insulation Also Helps with Sound Control
Have you ever noticed how in some apartment complexes, you can always hear what is going on next door? That’s because of a lack of insulation in-between the walls, the floors, or both within the complex. Often interior insulation is overlooked as an extraneous cost because the exterior/interior insulation area has been effectively established, but insulation does more than just keep temperatures regulated. It can also help with sound control. Fiberglass insulation between the walls of just two rooms can eliminate sound transfers by up to 80%.
How Do You Install Insulation?
You’re going to want to protect your skin from any insulation installation, even the form that uses blown-in recycled newspapers, but especially so with fiberglass insulation. Your skin becomes itchy from fiberglass because it is literally poking you with several tiny little fiberglass slivers. To counter this, always wear long sleeves, pants, and gloves. Masks can help to prevent these tiny slivers from entering your respiratory tract as well. When finished with your insulation project, make sure that you vacuum your clothes thoroughly to prevent further skin irritation later on – the washing machine will not remove fiberglass from your clothing in most instances. Wash these clothes separately after insulating and vacuuming as well.
Make sure that you have proper air ventilation in the area that you are insulating. This is especially important for crawl space or attic insulation installation projects. Fix exterior air leaks that you find before installing the installation too – those leaks are nearly impossible to find once you’ve finished the entire project.
To measure out your insulation and to finalize the installation, you’ll need some basic tools with you:
- a tape measure,
- utility knife,
- straight edge,
- lightweight stapler,
- and a hammer.
Then simply install the insulation by putting in the staples or tacks as is your preference.
Is It Time To Improve the Insulation In Your Home?
Is the insulation depth of your attic less than 19 inches? Do you have rooms within your home that have exposures to high moisture air, such as a bathroom or the kitchen, and the insulation hasn’t been checked? Is your bottom floor freezing cold, but your top floor searing hot? These are all indicators that it’s time to potentially improve the insulation in your home. You could be paying up to 70% more in utility costs than you need to be!
By insulating your home, your water heater, your ventilation system, and even your plumbing properly, you’ll be able to maximize the efficiency of your home for a relatively small investment. Take a look at your home’s insulation today, see what areas may be under-insulated, and use the information here to help develop a plan to fix the issues you have found. Are you ready to start saving more money every month? Inspect your home today!