As a homeowner, you do not need us to remind you of the escalating price of energy. Utility residential electricity rates have increased nationally by about 15% over the last decade, according to the Energy Information Administration. Not to mention that heating and cooling accounts for 50 to 70 per cent of the energy used in the average American home. Yet what is a homeowner meant to do? Winters are colder, summers are hotter, and in order to keep your home comfortable, electricity consumption is a must. The good news? There is a simple, cost-effective solution that will ensure your home not only stays temperate year round, but likewise decreases the amount of energy used in your home. The solution? Insulation. Newer homes are commonly better insulated than older homes, but most homes built today are still not insulated to the best recommended levels. In this article, we will be discussing how insulation works, how you can properly insulate your home, and how it can greatly reduce your heating costs.
How Insulation Works
Insulation provides resistance to heat flow, which naturally lowers your heating and cooling costs. Most insulation materials work by slowing conductive heat flow (that is, the way heat moves through materials). Heat flows from warmer to cooler until there is no longer a temperate difference. In a home, this essentially means that in winter, heat will flow from all of your heated living spaces to all the unheated places like your attic, garage, basement and sometimes outdoors. Heat also moves through ceilings, walls and floors. Therefore, in order to keep your home at a pleasant climate, the heat lost needs to be replaced by your heating system, and vice versa in the summer. This makes your heating and cooling systems work much harder, resulting in an expensive energy bill. However, a properly insulated home will decrease this heat flow by offering effective resistance to the flow of heat, meaning your heating system will not need to work as hard, which ultimately results in reduced heating costs.
The R-Value of Insulation
Insulation comes in a variety of materials and with different R-values per inch. The R-value of insulation measures its resistance to heat transfer. The bigger the R-value, the more effective the insulation. In tight spaces such as wall cavities, you need a high R-value per inch. In spaces like an attic or under your floors where there is more room, you can simply boost the insulation value of low R-value materials by creating a thicker layer. In most cases (but not all), the more insulation you add, the more you will save in energy consumption.
Foam insulation is a relatively new method for insulating a home. There are different types of foam insulation, but the most common is polyurethane foam, which is sprayed into ceilings and walls. It works by quickly expanding and forming an air-tight seal, and can be used to insulate a new home or added to the insulation of an existing one. It is best used when dealing with small crevices and cracks.
Fiberglass insulation that comes in the form of a blanket is the best insulation for new construction and spaces that are easy to access, like attics. Blanket insulation comes in rolls or batts, making it easy to cut and fit in any space, including around electrical boxes and pipes.
Loose Fill Insulation
Loose fill insulation, which is also known as blown insulation, is one of the most commonly used types of insulation. It can be made up of a variety of materials, such as: cellulose, fiberglass, polystyrene beads, perlite or vermiculite. Loose fill insulation can be used in new or existing homes and is very versatile due to its pliable nature.
When Insulating Your Home, Hire a Professional
When it comes to insulating your home, it is vital you consult with and hire a professional. While it is possible to install some insulation yourself, a professional insulation installer will be able to give you the best advice on the types of insulation you need based off your existing insulation.