How to Tell if Your Home Needs More Insulation (And What Kind)

How to Tell if Your Home Needs More Insulation (And What Kind)
  • Opening Intro -

    There is a commonly held belief that all homes require more insulation.

    In many cases, it’s true that additional insulation will increase the efficiency of your house by making better use of your heating and cooling energy expenditure.

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However, in some cases, a home is insulated sufficiently already. This article will explore some of the ways to tell if you need to invest in an insulation upgrade, as well as which kind of insulation is best.

Measure to Standards

One way to tell if you need more insulation is to take your trusty tape measure up to the attic or crawl space and measure the depth of insulation already present. While you’re up there, make sure there are no substantial gaps through which heat might travel. Also, note which type of insulation is in place, since each type has a specific R-value, which tells how effective it is. Then compare the numbers to the standard requirement applied to new, green homes. For fiberglass batting, multiply the depth by 3.14 to find the R-value. For blown in insulation, multiply by 3.7.

Vulnerable Ductwork

If your heating or cooling ducts pass through any unconditioned space, you’ll want to insulate and seal these vulnerable points in your home’s thermal defenses. Sometimes, uninsulated ducts should be left alone, especially if they run next to pipes, which may otherwise freeze in cold weather. However, you can save energy by taping joints between duct sections with duct tape. To determine if these are leaking, run the heat until the blower starts, then pass your hand over the joints. If you’re going to insulate your ducts, use roll insulation, also known as batting, and secure it with tape.

Walls and Floors

You should insulate these, especially if you have a finished or partially finished basement. Experts recommend the blown in type of insulation for your wall insulation choice. The dense pack method provides a superior level of insulation. If you’re remodeling, consider the sprayed on wet foam between studs or, if you can’t afford specialist help, a DIY layer of batting also provides protection. To insulate floors, place batting or foam insulation between the subfloor and the floored surface of the room. This is best done if a major flooring project is on your to-do list. To learn more about areas of your home that may need insulation, consult this article on Energy.gov.

Home Energy Audit

If you would prefer professional help in determining your insulation needs, consider the services of a home energy auditor. Along with a routine check of your home’s insulation, the auditor will also assess if your home has any compromised locations like cracks and gaps that are reducing your home’s ability to retain heat. Even if you have the proper amounts of insulation in all the right places, you will still lose out on reaching that optimal level of retaining heat if you are letting the warm air escape through gaps and cracks.

Other areas that often benefit from insulation are the foundation, exterior walls, and the floors of rooms above unconditioned areas. However, in many cases, insulating finished homes in these areas can prove impractical. Simply by insulating the areas covered in the above article, you’ll substantially reduce your energy costs and make your home more comfortable.

Information Source: Tri-County Insulation & Acoustical Contractors

Image Source: Flickr

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