Most of the energy used in your home goes toward heating and cooling. Maintaining a well-insulated home enables you to keep temperatures throughout your house comfortable and control your energy bills. Learn more about how to insulate your home properly and what to look for when selecting home insulation.
How Do You Tell If Your House Is Properly Insulated?
To determine whether your house is properly insulated, log on to the U.S. Department of Energy’s website and learn how to determine the R-value of your home’s insulation system. R-value refers to how resistant a material is to heat flow. The higher a material’s R-value, the greater its ability to insulate.
On the low end, loose-fill fiberglass has an R-value that ranges between 2.2 and 2.9 per inch of thickness. On the higher end, spray polyurethane foam has an R-value that ranges between 5.6 to 8.0 per inch of thickness.
Your home’s location, how it’s heated, and whether your house is newly constructed or a preexisting structure will determine the R-value of the insulation you need.
What Happens If Your House Is Not Insulated?
If your house lacks the correct amount of insulation or insulation isn’t installed correctly, your home will be negatively affected. Improper insulation can cause the following:
- Cold ceilings, floors, and walls
- Frozen pipes
- High energy bills
- Ice dams on the roof of your home during the winter
- Inconsistent temperatures throughout your home
- Uncomfortable drafts in rooms
- Water leaks in the attic
What Is the Standard Insulation for Homes?
It’s important to adequately insulate your attic because it can account for the greatest heat loss in your home. Measure the depth of your home’s current insulation. According to the North American Insulation Manufacturers Association, most energy codes recommend an R-value of 30 to 49 for attics. For example, if you want to attain an R-value of 38, you would need a minimum insulation thickness of 12 inches. If your current home insulation measures only 5 inches deep, you’ll need to add 7 inches of insulation to meet the 12-inch R-value of 38.
When calculating home insulation requirements, be sure you’re using the correct units of measurement. Loose-fill insulation follows a depth calculation, while blanket or sheet forms of insulation use batts or roll measurements.
How Do You Know When to Replace Insulation?
Look for the following seven signs to help you determine whether you should replace your home’s insulation.
- Inconsistent temperatures throughout your home.
- You can’t get your house to maintain the temperature you want.
- Draft in specific rooms of the home.
- Increasing energy bills in your home.
- Someone in your home continually suffers from allergies or illnesses. Old or improperly installed insulation may foster the growth of allergens and bacteria.
- You have condensation accumulations on your windows.
- Upon inspection, the insulation appears to be deteriorating or looks wet.
If you observe any of the above conditions, consult Energy Diagnostics for an inspection of your home’s insulation.
Can You Get Sick from Old Insulation?
Poor quality old insulation can pose health hazards for homeowners. If your home is more than 10 years old, it likely contains fiberglass insulation in spaces such as attics. This type of insulation contains small glass fibers. If mishandled, these glass fibers can enter the air, where they can irritate the eyes, skin, and lungs.
Spaces where insulation is present, such as attics and unfinished basements, can often be damp. Damp conditions can contribute to biological growth, such as mold and mildew. Once this biological growth gets into insulation, it breaks down the insulation as it reproduces. When particles from this growth become airborne, they can cause respiratory infections, trigger allergy symptoms, and result in other health issues.
How Do You Keep a Poorly Insulated House Warm?
To keep poorly insulated homes warm during cold weather, you need to seal sources of air leaks in a home. Gaps around window frames, cracks between walls and baseboards, and plumbing penetration spots are all areas you need to address. While sealing cracks and gaps can offer a short-term solution, it can’t substitute for replacing poor-quality insulation.
What Types of Insulation Can Help Keep Your House Warm?
Homeowners can find several types of insulation for their homes. The following represent some of the many types of insulation commonly used in residential structures.
- Cellulose insulation is a paper-based or wood-based product that’s mechanically blown into empty spaces within a home’s structural components. While it’s treated to be fire retardant, it’s not fireproof.
- Fiberglass insulation is a noncombustible product commonly used in homes. This type of insulation is generally available in batts, rolls, and loose-fill material.
- Polyisocyanurate is created from plastic containing a low-conductivity gas. While this insulation comes in liquid form, the material is also available as a rigid board, a laminated insulation panel, or spray-on foam. Over time, however, the gas may leak out of the insulation, reducing the material’s overall effectiveness.
- Polystyrene insulation is available in extruded, expanded, and molded forms. This foam board insulation resists moisture, making it an ideal choice for areas where the material could get wet, such as an exterior foundation, inside a basement against the foundation, and beneath a house wrap.
- Polyurethane foam is a type of cellular plastic created by mixed various chemicals to create a spray-on foam. These chemicals react quickly when applied to surfaces, expanding on contact to create a foam that insulates and provides a moisture barrier. When professionally installed, this spray-on foam creates a continuous barrier that resists heat transfer and reduces unwanted air infiltration through cracks, joints, and seams in building material.
Contact Energy Diagnostics for an Insulation InspectionAre you concerned about your home insulation? Are you experiencing uncomfortable drafts or uneven temperatures throughout your house? Contact Energy Diagnostics for an inspection of your home’s insulation. We take pride in ensuring that homes are comfortable and healthy for homeowners and that homeowners benefit from lower utility bills. To learn more about insulation inspection and other residential services, send us a message through our website’s contact form or call us at 219-245-5957.