There is an eco-friendly insulation movement happening right now – Zero Net Energy. It’s a community based initiative whose guiding principle is to reduce energy use and carbon emissions by building homes so efficiently that they actually produce all the energy they require to provide comfortable living conditions for the inhabitants that dwell within.
These buildings are vastly superior to anything you’ll encounter browsing the MLS listings (at least as far as energy efficiency goes), but they do have a significant downside when compared to contemporary homes: they simply aren’t commonly available and might not be for some time.
While eventually, we may all reside in a ZNE home, homeowners looking to reduce their home’s heating and cooling costs today need to look elsewhere – and it’s not always easy.
Where to start?
Evaluating your home’s insulation efficiency is not an easy task for the regular homeowner. In fact, it can be a mystery just trying to figure out where to start. Sure, you can have an insulation contractor come to your home and perform a thorough inspection, but at the end of the day, you might find yourself wondering if they’re providing you with a decision not based on making a sale.
If you find yourself at a loss and your knowledge of home insulation is somewhat lacking, consider hiring a third party evaluator to walk you through your home. These professionals offer unbiased recommendations and, if nothing else, will help you identify some of your home’s problem areas for heat and cooling loss.
Check out your attic, even if your home is new
If your home has an accessible attic, your inspection should begin there – even if your house is new. There is a common misconception that just because the house is new, there won’t be a problem with it. You can never be sure! A simple online search reveals a plethora of homeowner accounts recounting tales of builders that have cut corners in an effort to reduce costs or finish on time.
Just take a look at this video to find out what happened in this person’s home:
By the way, Insta-Insulation is one of our clients. Don’t forge to check out their profile on our website!
Know Your Home’s R-Value
Your home’s R-value indicates how good of a job the insulating material does in resisting heat flow (simply put, how much heat is lost in the winter and how much heat is allowed in during the summer). Depending on where you live, your home’s ideal R-value can vary significantly from other parts of the country.
Different types of insulation have different R-values, calculated per inch:
- Fiberglass, blown: 2.2 – 2.9
- Fiberglass, batts: 2.9 – 3.8
- Cellulose*, blown: 3.1 – 3.8
- Rock Wool, loose: 2.2 – 3.3
- Foam, sprayed: 3.6 – 8.2
*Cellulose insulation also has remarkable sound diminishing qualities, so if you’re looking to soundproof a space, you might want to consider cellulose for your insulation installation project.
To determine the R-value of your current insulation, simply whip out your calculator and multiply the value of the type of insulation with the inches of insulation. For example, suppose your attic is insulated with 15” of 2.2 rated fiberglass blown insulation. The R-value of your insulation would be R-33. The question is, is an R-value of 33 high enough to prevent heat permeation in your home?
Check out this short video to get a better understanding:
Location, location, location
R-values are an excellent guide for determining if your home is insulated properly, and more importantly, in determining if your hard earned money is seeping out into the environment. But remember that R-values are not equal – where as an R-33 may be more than adequate for a home located in the American southwest, it would fail completely in northern Ontario. To determine how much insulation you need, follow this simple rule of thumb:
- Warm climates require an R-value of R-30 to R-49
- Moderate climates require an R-value of R-38 to R-60
- Cold climates require an R-value of R-49 to R-60
Having the right amount and type of insulation will not only keep your home at a comfortable temperature, it will go a long way to reducing your home’s energy costs in both the summer and winter. Remember, you can have the most energy efficient HVAC system money can buy, but if your home is hemorrhaging heat due to unreliable insulation, you’ll never see the cost savings.
So, what’s the next step? Finding a reputable and knowledgeable insulation contractor who has your home’s best interests at heart. The best way to do that is to read through insulation contractor reviews on our website, to read articles about information and talk to people!