Home
  Thursday, April 17, 2014  
   
 

 
Create Warmth
Insulate your Attic to Perserve Heat and Save Money

Measure the depth of your insulation. If it is less than 15.5 inches, you are literally losing heat and money through your roof each year. With home heating prices taking a hefty hike this winter, adding insulation to your attic is one of the easiest ways homeowners can fight back.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, 80 percent of homes built before 1980 are not insulated to government standards. Even newer homes may not be as energy-efficient as you think.  The reason for this is state energy codes are only the minimum insulation requirements for new construction, not the amount recommend to optimize energy efficiency. So the only way to know for sure if you have enough insulation is to get up in the attic and measure.

Insulating your attic not only helps keep your heat and money at home, but is good for the environment too. Insulation is one of the most cost-effective ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Bringing the estimated 60 million under-insulated attics up to Department of Energy guidelines could save the equivalent of 103 million barrels of oil each year -- that’s 51 supertankers full. 

Other Places Energy is Lost

Another place where proper insulation is important is in a basement.  Regardless of whether or not a basement is unfinished and used for storage or finished and used as a living space it is vital that it be properly insulated to avoid energy loss.

For homes with crawlspaces instead of basements it is also important that these spaces be properly insulated.  The purpose for this type of insulation is to wrap the home in a thermal envelope. 

An insulation problem that is commonly found in older homes, built before 1970, is a lack of insulation in exterior walls.  While the solution is not as easy as some situations it is possible, and commonly practiced.  Insulation specialists can use the blown-in insulation and drill holes in either the exterior or interior walls, depending on the home, and spray in insulation.  These holes are small as two inches in diameter and can easily be filled with wooden plugs.  From there, the plugs can be patched or painted over.

Types of Insulation

Most people find rolled insulation in their homes.  This type of insulation comes in rolls or batts and is typically made from fiberglass or rock wool.  It has a vapor barrier between the insulation and the attic floor. Typically widths correspond with standard spacing of attic floor joists (beams). If your attic is currently insulated with fiberglass insulation it is only necessary to use unfaced insulation, without the vapor barrier, to add an extra layer of insulation.

Another type of insulation that is growing in popularity is blown-in or spray-applied insulation.  Typically this type of insulation is made from rock wool, fiberglass, or polyurethane foam.  This insulation is best for existing enclosed walls, open spaces, or other hard to reach areas.  An insulation specialist uses special equipment to blow the insulation into the proper place.

Other insulation types which are less commonly used are rigid insulation, reflective systems, and (in older homes) loose-fill vermiculite or perlite.

In the winter time, you seldom forget to close the door to the outside behind you.  You also double check that the windows are closed tightly.  This winter you should also take a moment and look at the way that your home is insulated.  If you do not, you may be loosing as much energy as leaving a window open.