by Harvey Bond
Checking your home’s insulation is one of the fastest and most cost efficient ways to use a whole house approach to reduce energy waste and make the most of your energy dollars!.
A good insulating system includes a combination of products and construction techniques that protect a home from outside temperatures—hot and cold, protect it against air leaks, and control moisture. You can increase the comfort of your home while reducing your heating and cooling needs by up to 30% by investing just a few hundred dollars in proper insulation and sealing air leaks.
First, check the insulation in your attic, ceilings, exterior and basement walls, floors, and crawl spaces to see if it meets the levels recommended for your area. Insulation is measured in R-values—the higher the R-value, the better your walls and roof will resist the transfer of heat. DOE recommends ranges of R-values based on local heating and cooling costs and climate conditions in different areas of the nation.
State and local codes in some parts of the country may require lower R-values than the DOE recommendations,
Where to Insulate
Adding insulation in the areas shown below may be the best way to improve your home’s energy efficiency.
For customized insulation recommendations, visitwww.energysavers.gov and check out the Zip Code Insulation Calculator, which lists the most economic insulation levels for your new or existing home based on your zip code and other basic information about your home.
Although insulation can be made from a variety of materials, it usually comes in four types; each type has different characteristics.
Rolls and batts or blankets are flexible products made from mineral fibers, such as fiberglass and rock wool. They are available in widths suited to standard spacings of wall studs and attic or floor joists.
2x4 walls can hold R-13 or R-15 batts; 2x6 walls can have R-19or R-21 products.
Loose-fill insulation—usually made of fiberglass, rock wool, or cellulose comes in shreds, granules, or nodules. These small particles should be blown into spaces using special pneumatic equipment. The blown-in material conforms readily to building cavities and attics. Therefore, loose-fill insulation is well suited for places where it is difficult to install other types of insulation.
Rigid foam insulation—foam insulation typically is more expensive than fiber insulation. But it’s very effective in buildings with space limitations and where higher R-values are needed. Foam insulation R-values range from R-4 to R-6.5 per inch of thickness (2.54 cm), which is up to 2 times greater than most other insulating materials of the same thickness.
Foam-in-place insulation—can be blown into walls and reduces air leakage.
• Consider factors such as your climate, building design, and budget when selecting insulation R-values for your home.
• Use higher density insulation, such as rigid foam boards, in cathedral ceilings and on exterior walls.
• Ventilation plays a large role in providing moisture control and reducing summer cooling bills. Attic vents can be installed along the entire ceiling cavity to help ensure proper airflow from the soffit to the attic to make a home more comfortable and energy efficient.
• Recessed light fixtures can be a major source of heat loss, but you need to be careful how close you place insulation next to a fixture unless it is marked IC—designed for direct insulation contact. Check your local building codes for recommendations.
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