Sure, we all know what insulation is, and why it’s important. But why should we care?
In a broad sense, we should care because of what insulation does, which is to surround the living area of your home and form a barrier between that space and outdoor temperature extremes. In the energy efficiency field, this known as the “building envelope.” Understanding where these barriers are (and are not) in your home, as well as whether those barriers are sufficient, is one of the top jobs of an energy auditor.
Save Energy and Money.
Air that leaks through your home’s envelope wastes a lot of energy, which then increases your utility costs. A well-sealed envelope, coupled with the right amount of insulation, can make a real difference on your utility bills.
Sealing leaks and adding insulation can improve the overall comfort of your home and help to fix many of these common problems:
- Reduced outside noise
- Less pollen, less dust, and fewer insects/pests entering your home
- Better humidity control
Most Homes Will Benefit.
The majority of homes in the United States don’t have enough insulation. In addition, they also have significant air leaks. If you added up all the leaks, holes, and gaps in a typical home’s envelope, it would equal having a window open every day of the year. Crazy, huh?
“But how will they know how sufficient my insulation is? Doesn’t that mean they’ll have to drill a hole somewhere?”
Score one for technology. Energy auditors now use an infrared camera to “see into” your home in order to identify those areas that have no or insufficient insulation.
An insulating material’s resistance to conductive heat flow is measured or rated in terms of its thermal resistance, or R-value — the higher the R-value, the greater the insulating effectiveness. The R-value depends on the type of insulation, its thickness, and its density. Installing more insulation in your home increases the R-value and the resistance to heat flow.
Needing more insulation in the past was easy…there was one basic kind, so that made it pretty much a no-brainer. Today’s selections are far more complex. How to know what you’re dealing with? Here are the different types (source: energy.gov)
BLANKET: BATT AND ROLL INSULATION
Blanket insulation is the most common and widely available type of insulation and comes in the form of batts or rolls. It consists of flexible fibers, most commonly fiberglass. You also can find batts and rolls made from mineral (rock and slag) wool, plastic fibers, and natural fibers, such as cotton and sheep’s wool.
LOOSE-FILL AND BLOWN-IN INSULATION
Loose-fill insulation consists of small particles of fiber, foam, or other materials. These small particles form an insulation material that can conform to any space without disturbing structures or finishes. This ability to conform makes loose-fill insulation well suited for retrofits and locations where it would be difficult to install other types of insulation.
The most common types of materials used for loose-fill insulation include cellulose, fiberglass, and mineral (rock or slag) wool. All of these materials are produced using recycled waste materials. Cellulose is primarily made from recycled newsprint. Most fiberglass contains 20% to 30% recycled glass. Mineral wool is usually produced from 75% post-industrial recycled content.
SPRAYED-FOAM AND FOAMED-IN-PLACE INSULATION
Liquid foam insulation materials can be sprayed, foamed-in-place, injected, or poured. Foam-in-place insulation can be blown into walls, on attic surfaces, or under floors to insulate and reduce air leakage. Some installations can have twice the R-value (more on R-value below) per inch of traditional batt insulation, and can fill even the smallest cavities, creating an effective air barrier. You can use the small pressurized cans of foam-in-place insulation to reduce air leakage in holes and cracks, such as window and door frames, and electrical and plumbing penetrations.
To determine how much insulation, you need for your home, or if you have any questions about its level of efficiency or how we can help, give us a call to schedule an energy consultation at 417-612-7086.