Ninety percent of U.S. homes are inefficiently insulated, with small holes, cracks, and gaps releasing air, upping energy bills, and costing folks extra money.
Insulation offers protection against these losses by sealing and padding potential points of heat escape.
Types of insulation abound, and you can use them in many locations throughout your home.
Whether summer has started or winter is coming, home insulation can help you save year-round.
How Can Home Insulation Help With Energy Savings?
Heating and cooling are the top contributors to home energy consumption in the United States.
Air conditioning and heating account for between 50% and 70% of total energy use, adding up to approximately half of household energy expenses.
Uninsulated or improperly insulated homes can generate energy losses roughly equivalent to keeping a window open or having a hole in your wall year-round.
By installing insulation and sealing air leaks, homeowners can save a national average of 11% on total home energy bills and about 15% on heating and cooling expenses alone. At the same time, they significantly reduce their carbon footprint and make their home climate more comfortable.
How Does Insulation Work?
Understanding how insulation works boils down to three things:
- Knowing how heat flow works
- Knowing where in your home you need to insulate
- Knowing what type of insulation to install
Insulation aims to prevent unwanted air movement and build thermal resistance. To achieve this, insulation needs to target heat and heat movement.
There are a few ways that heat flows and transfers energy.
- The first is conduction. Conduction occurs when heat travels through a solid material, like when the sun heats an uninsulated roof, which radiates into the home.
- The second is convection. Convection is heat transfer in the form of liquid or gas. This fluid motion causes warm air to rise and cooler air to descend, making for hotter attics and colder basements.
- The final form of heat flow or travel is radiation or heat transferred by way of light. A great example of this is the heat and light that radiate out from a campfire or the heat that we experience from sunlight.
These three types of heat energy show us that heat will naturally travel to areas of lower temperature in an attempt to disperse until all temperatures are even.
This also means that any heat generated in your home during the winter months will constantly be heading to cooler areas in the house.
Home heat will move from a shared living space, such as living rooms and bedrooms, to basements, garages — and most inefficiently — to outside.
Heat will move into your home in the summertime, and try to warm the cool air produced by your air conditioning, drawn shades, and fans.
As your heating and cooling climate control systems fight to maintain the desired temperature in your home, preventing heat flow, transfer, or escape by mitigating movement can help keep temperatures and stop your HVAC from overworking.
R-Value: How Do You Measure Thermal Insulation?
Insulation is measured by its ability to prevent heat flow or its capacity for thermal resistance.
An insulation’s rate of thermal resistance is called its R-value and is dependent, among other things, upon material density.
For most types of insulation, the more dense the insulation is, the greater its R-value will be, and the better it will be at protecting against airflow and heat transfer.
However, homeowners should note that density to R-value ratios can vary depending on insulation types, the insulation’s location, your home’s climate, and HVAC systems.
For example, compressed insulation can be loose-fill insulation poured on top of loose-fill insulation or loose-fill insulation poured on top of batt insulation. It will create compression that won’t necessarily equate to thickness and R-value because its own weight presses down on itself.
Insulation installed between and across floors, walls, and ceilings create thermal bridging. It is measured by the total value of the insulation applied to the surfaces, not the thickness of the insulation.
Where Should I Insulate My Home?
Preventing air loss requires targeting structural gaps in your home and reinforcing your home’s barriers.
Much like the coats we wear during the winter to help keep us warm, the water bottle we put ice in to keep it cold, and the reflective windshield covers we place in our cars to keep out the heat, our homes can benefit from an extra lining and heat resistant materials.
Our homes need an extra layer to keep desired temperatures in and out. Here are the spaces to consider for top to bottom protection.
Attic Insulation: A Top Priority
Your roof keeps the temperature of the spaces it covers inside, making the attic one of the most critical locations for insulation in your home.
Insulating finished and unfinished attic spaces, rafters, walls, and ceilings is essential for optimal climate control and energy efficiency. This kind of insulation is often done using fiberglass batts or blankets, loose-fill insulation, or both.
Starting with unfinished attic floors, homeowners should determine whether insulation is needed by observing their floor joists.
Floor joists are the structural support pieces that run horizontally across the floor between beams.
Regardless of whether or not you have insulation in your attic already if you can see your floor joists, chances are you need more insulation.
If insulation covers the joists, ensure the insulation is even across the span of the attic, high enough to cover the beams.
If there is little or no insulation, insulate alongside and on top of the joists, wall to wall, across the entire length of your attic.
Once the floors are secure, insulate between the studs or vertical beams of the knee walls in the attic.
A knee can be identified as the short vertical wall lengths under the slant of the roof.
Next, be sure to insulate between the beams and rafters in the remaining walls and ceiling between the studs just as you would for the knee walls.
Finally, insulate the attic door to ensure air is only passing through when you are.
You can check pre-existing or recently installed insulation thickness levels to make sure you have enough — an R-value of 30 or more is optimal.
Radiant or reflective attic insulation can be applied to exterior walls and rafters for homeowners living in hot climates.
These panels will reflect sunlight, sending it away from the house.
Walls and Foundations – Interior and Exterior Protection
When a house is framed, exterior walls are often insulated upon construction and contain insulation rolls or panels.
However, some homes may experience warmer or colder than average temperatures even after exterior walls, attic spaces, and basement spaces have been insulated.
Improving exterior wall insulation can help improve climate conditions but requires taking down and rebuilding the walls in your home, a time-consuming and expensive project.
If you think your exterior walls may need to be re-insulated, request a home energy audit.
Professionals can come and scan your home and tell you where in the house R-values are lacking.
Insulating Basements and Below
Similarly, many new homes can have basement foundations accompanied by insulating concrete forms and blocks laid during initial construction.
For homeowners building a new house, be sure to consult your contractor about foundation insulation before laying the base of your home.
New-home insulation allows homeowners to install both interior and exterior basement wall insulation — though interior basement insulation is usually not necessary where external insulation has been installed.
Exterior basement insulation provides a reduction of home heat loss through your foundation and the development of condensation, mitigating moisture and dampness.
Homeowners can install interior insulation for existing basements, a less expensive and more flexible basement insulation option.
Any insulation can be used in interior basement insulation, though batt and rigid insulation are often used.
How Do I Pick the Right Insulation Materials?
Insulation materials vary depending on the type of insulation you purchase and the location of where the insulation is to be installed. Here’s a look at the most common insulation types.
As the name suggests, fiberglass is made of tiny shards of glass fibers and is one of the most cost-effective materials used in insulation. Fiberglass is also more commonly used than other types of insulation.
Fiberglass insulation itself is spun or blown heated and melted glass.
This type of insulation is exceptionally dense, can afford homes optimal R-values, and can be applied in shallow areas.
Fiberglass insulation comes in the form of blankets, batts, and rolls, loose-fill, and blown-in insulation, rigid fibrous insulation, and duct insulation.
Polystyrene and Polyurethane Insulation
Polystyrene is another popular insulation material, a thermoplastic often found in foam sheets, boards, or panels.
Polystyrene insulation is often made of tiny, lightweight, compressed foam balls.
These balls can be molded and pressed into boards, panels, and sheets or poured into open spaces, concrete foundations, or empty wall cavities as loose-fill insulation.
Polyurethane insulation is another type of foam insulation that resists thermal energy with gas or air cells.
There are two types of polyurethane foam.
Closed-cell polyurethane foam has extremely dense cells that are closed and full of gas.
These gases cause the foam to expand, conforming to the space.
Open-cell polyurethane foam is less dense and contains air. This results in a lesser R-Value, decreasing as it ages due to gas loss. You can prevent gas loss by using foil or plastic panel fixtures.
Other Insulation Materials
Other common insulation materials include cellulose and mineral wool, insulation materials made from recycled materials.
Cellulose is made from natural, recycled fibers, including newspaper, cotton, sheep’s wool, straw, and hemp, and is another of the most cost-effective insulation options.
Mineral wool is an insulation material composed of rockwool and slag wool also taken from recycled waste.
Perlite insulation consists of small, light pellets made from rocks that serve as loose-fill or concrete additives.
This type of insulation is known for mitigating conductivity.
Cementitious foam is also made from rocks and minerals and can be sprayed or foamed into place, a prime choice for filling cavities.
Finally, phenolic foam is the material used to make air-based foam and rigid foam boards.
This insulation material is especially susceptible to shrinking post-application and is not the most effective.
What Are the Different Types of Insulation?
Not only is insulation made with a variety of materials, but it comes in a variety of forms as well.
The type of insulation you need often depends on where you are insulating and what kind of budget you have.
Batt and Roll Insulation
Blanket insulation is the most typical and widely available type of insulation and it comes in the form of batts or rolls.
Though blanket insulation looks fluffy and soft, it consists of flexible fibers (usually fiberglass), though it can consist of plastic fibers or rock wool.
This type of insulation can come in thick, rolled-up material or individual insulation sheets that you can cut to meet specific measurements.
Batt and roll insulation is often used when insulating floors, ceilings, and walls and is the first choice for attic insulation.
Loose-Fill and Blown-In Insulation
Like blanket insulation, loose-fill insulation is made of fiberglass particles, but it can also be made of mineral wool, cellulose, polystyrene, or perlite.
Also, similar to blanket insulation, loose-fill is a good choice for unfinished attic floors.
It can also be applied to newly constructed walls with wall cavities and is praised for its ability to complement retrofits and spaces that pose insulation obstacles, as it’s malleable and easily conforms.
Loose-fill insulation is applied by being poured or blown-in, a technique requiring professional tools.
Spray Foam and Foam Board Insulation
Spray foam insulation is often selected for its ability to reach trickier spots, as it can be sprayed, poured, or dispensed as foam by being blown into spaces.
Spray foam is suitable for targeting small air leaks, gaps, cracks, holes, and electrical and plumbing fixtures.
Foam insulation is a suitable sealant that’s easy to apply, though depending on the location and application technique, it can require the help of a professional.
Both spray foam insulation and foam boards are made from polyurethane and polystyrene.
Foam boards are sheets of foam insulation often used in walls but can be utilized anywhere in a home.
These boards afford homeowners a greater insulation-to-space ratio than other insulation options, but their efficiency makes them more expensive.
Foam boards offer high thermal resistance and thermal conduction reduction.
Structural insulated panels are advanced foam panels used in a structural capacity.
Rigid insulation is made of fiberglass, mineral wool, or plastic foams and is prime for insulating air ducts or pipes, as it is resistant to high temperatures. However, it can also be used anywhere throughout the home to prevent energy loss.
When not applied to airways or piping, rigid insulation is manufactured into boards often fitted with reflective backing, serving as dual-insulation and producing substantial R-values.
Rigid insulation is a good choice for those looking to insulate unfinished or foundational walls, as well as floors and ceilings.
Reflective and Radiant Insulation
Found in attics and roofs, reflective and radiant insulation ward off radiant heat, preventing the sun’s radiation from traveling through and infiltrating your home.
The reflective foil characteristic of radiant insulation reduces convection by reflecting light off the foil and can ward off sunlight so efficiently that it is estimated 97% of sun-transmitted heat is deterred by these applications.
These white ceiling and floor barrier types of insulation effectively prevent heat gain in warmer, sunnier environments.
Concrete Block Insulation
Insulating concrete forms, or ICFs, are wall forms built from foam boards or blocks intended to resist thermal heat.
A common compliment to concrete foundations, this type of thermal insulator is often reinforced with rebar and packed around structural bases, keeping heat from escaping.
Home Insulation: An Invisible Yet Most Important Energy Savings Element
Most insulation can’t be seen and is easy to forget, but your home’s hidden layers are essential to saving energy and lowering your electric bills.
Increase the comfort of your home and save energy by checking your insulation status and perhaps renovating today.
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The post Home Insulation: A Look Inside Energy Savings for Your Space appeared first on Just Energy.
By: Just Energy
Title: Home Insulation: A Look Inside Energy Savings for Your Space
Sourced From: justenergy.com/blog/home-insulation-energy-savings/
Published Date: Fri, 03 Dec 2021 18:23:53 +0000