Below are some basic tips
and  information on insulation 
and how it will help you save money
and energy usage
in your home.

 

How much will I save by adding insulation to my home?

Insulation protects the environment by reducing energy use.  According to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), the typical family spends close to $1,500 each year on energy bills.  DOE statistics show that over 40% of a homeowner's utility bill goes for heating and cooling costs.  DOE states that homeowners may be able to reduce their energy bills from 10% to 50% by taking certain steps.  

One of the major steps is increasing the amount of thermal insulation in their existing homes or by purchasing additional insulation when buying new homes.

Unless your home was constructed with special attention to energy efficiency, adding insulation will probably reduce your utility bills.  The amount of energy you conserve will depend on several factors:  Your local climate; the size, shape, and construction of your house; the living  habits of your family; the type and efficiency of the heating and cooling systems; and the fuel you use.  Energy conserved is money saved, and the annual savings increase when utility rates go up.  Insulation upgrades also add to the value of your home.

My opinion is that adding insulation in an existing home walls is not cost effective.  A better expenditure of your money would be to replace your older windows.  That being said, remember ceiling insulation is by far the most efficient means to save on your heating and cooling costs and add comfort to your home. 

What is R-value?

R-Value measures insulations thermal resistance to heat flow.  The higher the R-value, the greater the insulating power.  All material having the same R-value (regardless of type, thickness, or weight) are equal in insulation power.  The R-value of different insulating materials must be based on test methods established by the American Society of Testing and Materials.  For more information click on ASTM.  

Always remember that R-values are determined by material type, thickness, and installed weight per square foot, not by thickness alone.  Insulation helps keep your home cool during the summer months and warm during the winter months.  

How Much Insulation Should My Home Have?

The U.S. Department of Energy recommends home insulation R-values based on where you live.  These recommendations are detailed for various sections of the home including walls, ceilings, and basements.  To read more on these recommendations, click on 

Energy Star Insulation Recommendations.

What Must New Home Sellers Tell New Home Buyers?

Every new home seller must put specific information about insulation in every home sales contract.  Local and state governments may have additional rules and regulations governing consumer contracts.


What is the basic difference between fiberglass, rock and slag wool, cellulose, and foam insulations?

Fiberglass is made from molten sand or recycled glass and other inorganic materials under highly controlled conditions.  Fiberglass is produced in batt, blanket, or loose-fill forms.

Rock and slag wool are manufactured similarly to fiberglass, but use natural rock and blast furnace slag as its raw material.  Typical forms are loose-fill, blanket, or board types.

Cellulose (also referred to as wood fiber) is a loose-fill made from paper to which flame retardants are added.

Foam insulations are available as rigid boards or foamed-in-place materials that can fill and seal blocks or building cavity spaces.  Foams are also used in air sealing to fill gaps, cracks, or openings.

Reflective materials are fabricated from aluminum foils with a variety of backings such as polyethulene bubbles and plastic film.  Reflective insulations retard the transfer of heat; they can be tested by the same methods as mass insulation and therefore are assigned an R-value.

A Radiant Barrier is a building construction material consisting of a low emittance (normally 0.1 or less) surface (usually aluminum foil) bounded by an open air space.  Radiant barriers are used for the sole purpose of limiting heat transfer by radiation. 


Can insulation help with sound control?

Yes.  Insulation is an efficient way to reduce unwanted sound, and it is commonly used to provide a more comfortable and quieter interior  environment.  Insulation effectively reduces noise transmission through floors and through interior and exterior walls.  A professional insulation contractor can help you select the proper insulation for your needs.

Why hire a professional insulation contractor rather than a home improvement contractor or general contractor?

Professional insulation contractors devote their time to insulation contracting services and focus on your energy conservation and comfort.  Proper installation is essential for insulation to perform properly.  Knowledge of vapor retarders, air infiltration, ventilation, recessed lighting and water pipes are just a few of the areas critical to installation techniques.  Professional insulation contractors have access to a wide variety of training, are familiar with local codes and regulations, and can offer guidance about the type and amount of insulation you will need.

It is also highly recommended that you hire a licensed and insured insulation contractor.  Ask for a state license number and a certificate of insurance be provided to you by the contractor you choose to do you insulation work.  

What words or terms should I look for in contracts or receipts for insulation?

Once you have chosen an insulation contractor, make sure the contract includes the job specifications, cost, method of payment, and warranty information provided by the insulation material manufacturer.  Make sure that the contract lists the type of insulation to be used and where it will be used.  Make sure that each type of insulation is listed by R-value.

Avoid contracts with vague language such as R-values with the terms "plus or minus"; "+or-"; "average"; or "nominal".

Beware of any contract or verbal offering that quotes the job in terms of thickness only (e.g., "14 inches of insulation").  Remember, it is the R-value, not the thickness, that tells how well a material insulates.  When buying insulation, be sure not to get sidetracked by the thickness of the material.