My in-laws live in an old, but lovely, home that was built quite a long time before the 1970’s. Why is that important? Well, prior to that decade and the Energy Crisis that came along with it most families didn’t care about home insulation. That’s why my in-laws’ heating and cooling bills were always high but when energy costs started skyrocketing their bills threatened to force them out of their beautiful home.
That’s when we decided to start seriously looking at their home insulation. Whether you’re buying a home or making your home more energy efficient, here are some home insulation tips you should find useful.
Home Insulation Basics
Regardless of the type of insulation you use in your home, it serves the same purpose – to prevent heat transfer. During the winter, you want to keep the cold air out and the warm air in. During the summer, it’s just the opposite. Reduced heat transfer means your home is able to maintain a stable climate and that puts less strain on your heating/cooling system which, in turn, reduces your energy costs and extends the life of your equipment which also saves you money in the long run.
A common question people ask is how to determine the energy efficiency of a given type of insulation. The answer is you compare R-values. R-value is a figure which represents how strongly the material can resist heat conduction. High numbers mean less heat transfer and greater energy efficiency.
Types of Home Insulation
Possibly the most challenging part of choosing home insulation is wading through all of the varieties on the market. Each type has advantages and disadvantages so you have to weigh those issues and consider what fits your particular needs the best. For example, spray foam insulation can be applied in some quantities and also provides some sound insulation which is nice if your neighbors are close. The foam can also increase the stability of the structure and some types are even fireproof. On the down side, you’ll need to use drywall or some other type of fire barrier with most spray foam because when it burns it releases toxic fumes into the air. Over time the insulation shrinks and becomes less effective.
Another common option is known as loose fill insulation. This was the option we chose for my in-law’s home. While loose-fill does not provide the greatest energy efficiency, it is safer for the environment and for humans, plus it’s one of the most cost-effective choices available.
Basically, loose fill materials are blown into the attic, between the walls, and in the ceiling of the home by a professional contractor. You can choose from a number of different materials, including cellulose, fiberglass, granulated cork, cotton, and wood chips. Many of the materials available are recycled so this insulation method may be a good choice if you are concerned about the environment.
These are just a couple of the choices you’ll have to investigate. Take some time and do your research. You need to find a good balance between safety, price, and effectiveness. It’s not an easy chore but your reduced heating/cooling bills will definitely be worth the effort in the end.