Insulation in your home resists heat flow, heat going out in the
winter, and heat coming in during the summer. The more you have in your
home the easier it is to keep your home warm in the winter and cool in
Think of your home as a large thermos bottle. If you put ice water in
the thermos bottle it stays cold and if you put hot coffee in the
thermos bottle it stays hot. So the same thing happens with your home.
If you have an older home, you may not have enough, and if you have a
really old home you may have none at all. The first home I bought was
built in the early fifties and had very little in the attic and in the
So if your home does not have enough, the heat lost in the winter must
be replaced by your heating system and the heat gained in the summer
must be removed by your cooling system. And the resulting higher power
bills must be paid by you!!
Unless your home was especially built for energy efficiency, you can
usually add more insulation and reduce you energy bills. To determine
whether you should add more, you will have to find out how much you
You could hire a qualified home energy auditor who will check your home
as part of the energy audit. Some power companies will provide an
energy audit for their customers for free or a minimal charge. Give
your power company a call or check out their web page to see what they
can do for you.
If you don’t want an energy audit and you’re the do-it-your-self type person, you’ll need to inspect your home yourself.
Inspecting and Evaluating Your Insulation
Check out your attic, walls and floors next to an unheated or uncooled
space, like your garage or basement. You can usually see the insulation
in the exposed structure. You should be able to see the type and
measure its thickness.
Inspect your exterior walls by looking around your electrical outlets:
- First!!!! Turn off the power to that outlet at the circuit breaker.
- Remove the outlet cover and shine a flashlight into the crack around
the outlet box. You should be able to see if there is any insulating
material and maybe how thick it is.
- Pull out a small amount if you don’t know what kind it is, you can show it to an expert at your local home supply store.
- Check out the outlets on your first floors and upper floors, if any, and
in old and new parts of your home. Just because you find some in one
wall doesn’t mean that it’s everywhere in your home.
- Once you’ve determined the type you have and how much you have you can then decide if you need to add more.
Types of Insulation
- Rolls and batts or blankets - These are flexible mineral fibers,
such as fiberglass and rock wool. They are available in rolls or batts
with R-values of R-13 to R-21. A batt is a precut section of insulation.
- Loose-fill - this type of is made up of fiberglass, rock wool, or
cellulose. They are usually blown into spaces using special air-driven
equipment. When it is blown in it takes the shape of the building walls
and attics. So this is great for older homes or places where installing
other types would be very difficult.
- Rigid foam - This type of can be very effective with R-values
twice as great as the other types. However it is usually more expensive
but is great for homes with space limitations and where high R-values
- Foam-in-place - This type of can be sprayed into walls and helps
to reduce air leakage and has very good R-values. It can also be sprayed
around widow and door frames.
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