Reduce Energy Bills with Insulation
Is your energy bill eating up a lot of your income? According to Connect4Climate, heating and cooling contribute to 47% of the total energy costs in the average American home. The total cost of your home may vary depending on what energy-saving measures you have in your home.
Some of the reasons your energy bills are so high every month include leaving appliances plugged in, leaving lights on when no one is using them and using old appliances — speaking of old appliances in your home or business, is the insulation in your home modern? If you live or work in a building with outdated insulation, then you are wasting a lot of energy and money.
Modern and energy-efficient homes are using insulation to save on their annual energy costs. Insulated homes remain warm in winter and cool in the summer without overwhelming energy bills. If you want to insulate your home, the first step is talking to an insulation contractor about your options, since you do not want to waste time and resources on choosing the wrong insulation.
Different Types of Insulation Locations
About 90% of American homes are under-insulated. The higher probability is that yours is one of these homes. Under insulating your home is one of the reasons you are spending a lot on your energy bills every month. Areas in a building without insulation create gaps that allow either heat or cool air to enter or exit a building. Regardless of the external climate, the result is that the heating and cooling systems become overworked and use more energy to maintain the desired climate in a building.
- Attic Insulation
The attic is one area that affects the temperature of your home. Hot air tends to rise, which makes the attic unbearable during the summer. Insulating your attic is beneficial in several ways:
- Reducing your energy bills
- Increase the comfort of your home
- Reduce noise
- Improve air quality in your home
Some of the insulation materials you can use for your attic include fiberglass, cellulose, and radiant barrier and spray foam insulation. Radiant barrier insulation is the best for attics in warmer areas as they reflect the sun’s energy during summer.
- Wall Insulation
Wall insulation is essential for thermal insulation and soundproofing. You can insulate the walls internally and externally. Proper insulation of walls plays a crucial role in reducing your energy bills, making your home comfortable, and reducing noise pollution for the outside and across rooms.
Some of the benefits of wall insulation include:
- Thermal regulation
- Dampness prevention
The choice for internal or external insulation depends on some factors, including how much you want to change the appearance of the home and your finances.
- Crawl Space Insulation
Crawl spaces can lead to unnecessary energy spending due to air leaks and soil vapor intrusion. To decide on the most appropriate insulation method, you have to check whether the crawl space is ventilated or not. Insulation for ventilated crawl spaces requires subfloor insulation while unventilated spaces require wall insulation. In other cases, you may need to weather or seal.
- Floor Insulation
Insulating the floor is essential for keeping the home warm. While it is not necessary to insulate the top floors, you can insulate those above unheated spaces to enhance energy efficiency. Before you install any form of floor insulation, ask for professional help to ensure you use the right material for the floor.
- Ceiling Insulation
The importance of ceiling insulation is to increase soundproofing and thermal regulation. Ceiling insulation is either bulk or loose-fill. Bulk ceiling insulation is either in segments or in blankets. Loose-fill insulation is usually blown onto the ceiling and is especially ideal for roofs with limited space.
Types of Insulation Materials You Can Use
Installations come in various materials and for different purposes. The type of insulation you choose depends on your insulation goals, the climate in your region, and your budget. Here are some of the most common types of insulation:
Fiberglass is a standard insulation method today. It is made from finely woven silicon, making it one of the cheapest options in the market. The installation of fiberglass requires care, as it can release tiny glass shards and glass powder, which can damage your lungs and eyes.
You can use fiberglass in unfinished walls, floors, ceilings and between beams, joints, and studs. Fiberglass comes in either blanket form or rigid boards, which are either medium or high density. Fiberglass insulates your home by trapping pockets of air that slow down the spread of heat, cold and sound.
If you are looking for a non-inflammable cheap and DIY insulation material, fiberglass is the ideal option. However, it has some downsides such as allowing airflow (which can increase discomfort and energy bills) and can trap allergens, dust, and moisture leading to the growth of mold. When disturbed, fiberglass can release glass dust, which is harmful to your health.
- Mineral Wool
Mineral wool is an insulation material made from natural materials such as natural stone and iron-ore waste. The stone fibers from stone or slag are woven to make mineral wool. Mineral wool is ideal for thermal and pipe insulation as well as for soundproofing. Like fiberglass, mineral wool is easy to install but stands out from the former in its ability to dry quickly.
It has some interesting qualities, such as moisture retention and control. It can absorb moisture when the surrounding is wet and release it when it is dry. Its moisture control abilities can be enhanced by using a smart vapor barrier. Mineral wool blocks off most of the sound making the interior of your building, noise-free. Besides, it has high heat resistance and can withstand a temperature of up to 1000°C.
Mineral wool, however, requires you to exercise caution when installing. Mineral wool releases tiny slivers that can be inhaled and cause damage to the lungs.
Cellulose insulation is made from recycled newspapers or plant-based fibers. It is, therefore, a cost-effective and cost-friendly insulation material. It is applied mainly in attics, open walls and in cavities between walls. It is compact and lacks, making it very fire-resistant. Borate, which is added during the manufacture of cellulose, adds to its fire-resistant quality.
The advantage of cellulose is that it is the most environmentally friendly insulation material since it contains up to 85% of recycled products. It resists the growth of mold, attack by insects, and rodents.
Cellulose is usually installed using the dense-pack technique, which ensures it fills up the area and has a high density. For attics, the cellulose is blown in to be fluffy and with air packets for thermal insulation.
Cellulose has about three times more density than fiberglass, making it an ideal soundproofing material. However, cellulose may release newspaper dust, which triggers allergies in some people. Very few people are skilled in installing cellulose; therefore, make sure that the insulation contractor you hire has the expertise in installing cellulose insulation.
Polystyrene is a thermal and sound insulator made from thermoplastic materials mainly EPS (expanded) and XEPS (extended/Styrofoam). These materials make polystyrene insulation waterproof as well. Polystyrene is neither fire-resistant nor environmentally friendly. The material used to introduce fireproofing quality is also criticized for its danger to health and the environment.
Other commonly used thermal insulation materials include polyurethane form, aerogel, and Pyrogel XT.
Selecting the Best Insulation
If you are in a hurry to insulate your house, pause and take your time. You cannot afford to make mistakes with choosing the right installation. First, you need to understand that there is no perfect insulating material. However, there can be a perfect one for your home, business, and budget.
- The R-Value
The R-value of insulation material is its ability to resist heat flow. The higher the R-value, the greater the ability to resist heat flow. When you use an insulation material with high heat resistance, then more heat will stay indoors during winter, the indoors will remain cool during summer.
An insulating material with a good R-value will prevent heat loss through conduction, convection, infiltration, and radiation. Cellulose meets all of these conditions, making it a superior insulation material. Other insulation materials ranked in their R-value superiority include fiberglass, spray foam, and rigid foam board.
Climatic factors that affect the choice of insulation include temperature, humidity, winds, and rainfall amounts. How these factors vary within a year determines the insulation needs of your home. A building or home in a cold area will have different insulation need compared to one in a warmer climate. Where climatic factors vary drastically with the seasons, you also need to select insulation materials that will adjust to these changes.
The humidity levels will also determine whether you need additional materials such as vapor barriers to protect the insulation from absorbing moisture. For areas that are warmer, and require cooling, you can use reflective foils to reduce the amount of heat retained in a building. As a rule, you should select materials with a higher R-value for cold areas.
- Home Design
The design of a building determines how energy efficient it is. You can improve the energy efficiency of the building and reduce energy costs by using materials that fit well with the energy goals of the building.
You cannot determine how energy efficient your home is by just looking at it; you need to hire a professional who will conduct an energy audit of your home. Energy audits reveal how the building uses energy and identifies the areas that can be improved for energy efficiency.
If you are remodeling your house or building, then you must conduct an energy audit for the best results. If you are building, then it is wise to raise a structure designed with energy efficiency in mind. It will save you a lot over time and be a good return on your investment.
- Your Budget
The financial resources you have will determine the type of insulation materials you use. Fiberglass is an affordable alternative the most commonly used in many homes. If you still want a quality, but expensive insulating material, you will have to adjust your budget or postpone your insulation plans.
You do not have to be among the 90% of Americans who have under-insulated their homes, neither do you have to allow a 35% wastage on energy. Insulating a variety of surfaces in your home or business will increase your savings on energy bills. When exploring the various types of insulation materials, you can involve an insulation contractor who will provide you with professional advice and services.