The leading causes of energy waste in most homes are Inadequate insulation and air leakage. Insulation saves money and our nation’s limited energy resources. It can also make your house more comfortable by helping to maintain a uniform temperature throughout the house. Walls, ceilings, and floors will be warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer. Insulation can also act as a sound absorber or barrier, keeping noise levels down.
It’s possible to add insulation to almost any house. You might be able to do the job yourself if the structural framing is accessible – for instance, in unfinished attics or under the floor over an unheated space. Or, you may prefer to hire an insulation contractor. In either case, it’s important to choose and install the insulation correctly.
The amount of energy you conserve will depend on several factors:
- your local climate
- size, shape, and construction of your home
- living habits of your family
- type and efficiency of heating and cooling systems
- fuel you use
Once the energy savings have paid for the installation cost, energy conserved is money saved – and the annual savings will increase if utility rates rise.
Reflective insulation systems are fabricated from aluminum foils with a variety of backings like kraft paper, plastic film, polyethylene bubbles, or cardboard. The resistance to heat flow depends on the heat flow direction; this type of insulation is most effective in reducing downward heat flow. Reflective systems are typically located between roof rafters, floor joists, or wall studs. If a single reflective surface is used alone and faces an open space, like an attic, it’s called a radiant barrier. Radiant barriers are sometimes used in buildings to reduce summer heat gain and winter heat loss. They are more effective in hot climates than in cool climates.
Blown-in loose-fill insulation includes loose fibers or fiber pellets that are blown into building cavities or attics using special pneumatic equipment. Another form includes fibers that are co-sprayed with an adhesive to make them resistant to settling. The blown-in material can provide additional resistance to air infiltration if the insulation is sufficiently dense.
Blankets in the form of batts or rolls are flexible products made from mineral fibers. They are available in widths suited to standard spacings of wall studs, or attic or floor joists. Continuous rolls can be hand-cut and trimmed to fit, and are available with or without vapor retarder facings. Batts with a special flame-resistant facing are available in various widths for basement walls where the insulation will be left exposed.