Insulation for Energy Efficient Homes
By Matt Lee, Allurausa.com
A carefully constructed insulation strategy will improve your home’s energy efficiency, putting more money back into your pocket. Insulation, an often overlooked of element of the house, offers more than just cost savings. Properly insulating your home will also keep your family comfortable year-round. In this article, we explain the different types of insulation for energy efficient homes, so you can make an informed decision for your home.
How Does Insulation Work?
Insulation reduces the exchange of heat through a surface like your walls, attic, or roof. A well-insulated home will ensure that less warm air escapes from the house during the winter, and less cool air escapes during the summer. This reduces the amount of energy needed for heating and cooling your home.
If you’re having your home built, be sure to talk to your contractor about having insulation added. Properly insulating your home may lower your annual heating and cooling bill by up to 20 percent!
Insulation is generally rated with R-values, where R stands for resistance. R-values vary based on the type, thickness and density of the material being used. Insulation with a higher R-value will perform better than insulation with a lower rating.
Types of Energy Efficient Insulation
With so many different types of insulation for energy efficient homes on the market, it can be overwhelming to make a decision for your home.
Blanket — Batts and Rolls: All building codes require insulation in the home exterior walls between the wood studs that make up the frame of the walls. Batts and rolls are most commonly used. They are made from a combination of fiberglass, mineral wool, plastic fibers and natural fibers. Fiberglass is an excellent insulator and very resistant to fire. You can use batts and rolls wherever you have unfinished walls, including your foundation walls, as well as your floors and ceilings.
To install, you simply have to fit the insulation between studs, joists and beams. The great thing about batts and rolls is that it is relatively inexpensive and can easily be installed yourself. Tip: If you are working with fiberglass insulation, be sure to wear work gloves, a long sleeve shirt, dust mask, and safety goggles.
Insulated Concrete Blocks: An insulated concrete block is a foam and concrete material that is placed on the home’s exterior for new construction. Insulated concrete blocks are usually made from a mix of engineered expanded polystyrene (EPS), portland cement and recycled cementitious material. They’re not only designed to be an effective insulation, but are also durable, non-combustible and storm-resistant.
Concrete block insulation can be used on unfinished walls and installed during new construction or major renovations. During new construction, the insulation is literally built into the home exterior, creating high thermal resistance. This type of energy-efficient insulation requires specialized skills, so it must be installed by a professional. The insulating cores increases maximum thermal performance that can even cut energy bills in half. Furthermore, these structures are mold, rot, mildew and insect resistant, so homeowners will enjoy the added peace of mind that their home is protected for life.
Foam Board: Foam board insulation is made of a combination of polyurethane, polystyrene, and polyisocyanurate. The material is applied to a home’s unfinished walls, floors, and ceilings and can be installed either on your home’s interior or exterior. For home exterior applications, the foam board must be covered with weatherproof facing, while interior applications must be covered with ½ inch gypsum board for fire safety. Foam boards offer a high insulating value for relatively little thickness.
Loose Fill and Blown-in Insulation: Loose fill and blown in insulation is a type of insulation that is made from a mix of cellulose, fiberglass, and mineral wall. It can be installed to existing wall structures or new cavities and is a great option for insulating awkward or hard to reach places. A professional actually blows the insulation into place using special equipment. It’s a great option for homeowners looking to add insulation to existing finished areas or irregularly shaped areas that are surrounded by obstructions.
Sprayed Foam Insulation: There are two different types of spray foam – open cell and closed cell. Close cell spray foam is high density and open cell spray foam is its low-density counterpart. Both types require a thermal barrier to provide some protection during fire. Each has its pros and cons. The biggest advantage of spray foam insulation is that it virtually eliminates air infiltration however, it is not DIY-friendly. When applied, it expands 100 times its volume to seal cracks and crevices, and is great for use in attics, ceilings, walls, and floors.
Insulation for Energy Efficient Homes
Not all insulation is created equal. In the end, your home’s particular situation will dictate which type of insulation you will ultimately choose. It’s important to keep in mind that all of the insulation in your home is part of a larger system. A certified professional may recommend using a combination of insulation to keep your home fully insulated, comfortable, and energy efficient.