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Insulation: How to save money and reduce energy waste

Checking your home's insulation is one of the fastest and most cost-efficient ways to use a whole house approach to reduce energy waste and make the most of your energy dollars. A good insulating system includes a combination of products and construction techniques that protect a home from outside temperatures—hot and cold, protect it against air leaks, and control moisture. You can increase the comfort of your home while reducing your heating and cooling needs by up to 10% by investing in proper insulation and sealing air leaks.

Should I Insulate My Home?

You might want to consider insulating your home if you:

  • Have an older home and haven't added insulation. Only 20% of homes built before 1980 are well insulated.
  • Are uncomfortably cold in the winter or hot in the summer—adding insulation creates a more uniform temperature and increases comfort.
  • Build a new home, addition, or install new siding or roofing.
  • Pay high energy bills.
  • Are bothered by noise from outside—insulation muffles sound.

Insulation Tips

  • Consider factors such as your climate, building design, and budget when selecting insulation R-values for your home.
  • Use higher density insulation, such as rigid foam boards, in cathedral ceilings and on exterior walls.
  • Ventilation plays a large role in providing moisture control and reducing summer cooling bills. Attic vents can be installed along the entire ceiling cavity to help ensure proper airflow from the offsite to the attic to make a home more comfortable and energy efficient. Check with a qualified contractor.
  • Recessed light fixtures can be a major source of heat loss, but you need to be careful how close you place insulation next to a fixture unless it is marked IC—designed for direct insulation contact. Check your local building codes for recommendations.
  • As specified on the product packaging, follow the product instructions on installation and wear the proper protective gear when installing insulation.

One of the most cost-effective ways to make your home more comfortable year-round is to add insulation to your attic.

Adding insulation to the attic is relatively easy and very cost effective. To find out if you have enough attic insulation, measure the thickness of the insulation. If it is less than 7 inches of fiber glass or rock wool or 6 inches of cellulose, you could probably benefit by adding more.

If your attic has enough insulation and your home still feels drafty and cold in the winter or too warm in the summer, you might need to add insulation to the exterior walls as well. Adding insulation to the exterior walls is expensive and usually requires a contractor. However, it may be worth the cost if you live in a very hot or cold climate.

You may also need to add insulation to your crawl space. Either the walls or the floor above the crawl space should be insulated.

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