Quick question: which is the best place in the world to spend the winter? The comfort of your own home, of course! With the proper heating, you can keep your house warm and cozy to hibernate and binge-watch your favorite show on Netflix during this sometimes-awful season. Naturally, you have to actually maintain that atmosphere during this three months and in spite of what you might think, that doesn’t necessarily mean you have to blow up your energy bills. You only need proper insulation.
Chances are that if you live in a house that was built after the ‘40s, you already are enjoying the benefits of good old insulation. But even if you do, there’s no reason to think your insulation are already covered. It’s possible that the insulation might have deteriorated over time and could use some overhaul. Heck, there are some chances that your new home isn’t properly insulated. Ideally, you should have your house checked out to see if you can take a step further towards your energy efficient home. Interested in doing so? Here are some general insulation tips you could benefit from.
Check your current insulation (if any)
The first thing you should do is check the current state of your insulation to know where you’re standing. You can do this yourself with a quick visual test throughout the house, looking for loose fill between the ceiling joists, holes and cracks in your walls and attic and exposed batts of fiberglass. The presence of any of these indicate the need for repair.
Don’t feel convinced by your own inspection? Hire an insulation contractor to conduct the test for you. These professionals will pinpoint all the problems you may have and suggest cost-effective solutions to all of them.
Don’t throw all the old insulation away
When revamping your home’s insulation, some professional might suggest to tear down the old one and replace it entirely. Naturally, this sounds logical since old insulation might be deteriorated and, as such, can’t get its job done effectively. However, that’s rarely the case. Changing your entire insulation could end up costing you dearly and will take a lot of time. Go with the other alternative: just replace the insulation where it proves to be unfixable.
This also applies to older houses where insulation can be a little less orthodox. Some late 19th century houses can have newspapers, corncobs and wood shavings working as insulation. In the same sense, homes from early and mid-20th century will surely have used asbestos and urea-formaldehyde, two products that often raise health concerns. However, both these two and the former materials can be left in place. The only thing you’ll need is encapsulate them in the spots where they are exposed. Thus, they will keep serving their purpose and you won’t have to pay a fortune to have great insulation.
It’s all about the attic
Pay special attention to your attic, as having it properly insulated can lead to a cut of almost 50% in your energy bills. The attic is the closest room to ceiling –duh- and, as such, suffers the most from wind, rain and weather in general. Additionally, it’s one of the most neglected areas of the house, given that is almost always used as a storage room where anyone hardly goes. Combine those elements and you’ll surely find that the insulation used in your attic might have deteriorated over time.
The solution is to thoroughly check it in search for leaks and insulation gone to waste. If you haven’t done this in a long time, chances you’re going to have to replace some batts here and there. If you have the money, you should pull up the flooring and stuff it up with new insulation. This, of course, will render your attic useless as a storage. In return, you’ll notice major differences at the most cost-effective solution.
Don’t just buy insulation materials
Insulation materials are basically rated according to their R-value – their thermal resistance, that is. Thus, the higher the R-value, the better the material insulates. In that way, some professional might feel comfortable making you buy the highest R-valued material to get the job done. Yet, you should know that these values are there for a reason: to adapt to varying weather throughout different regions of the countries.
So, the recommendation is obvious: don’t just buy high R-value materials just because you can. There are certain materials more appropriate for your region than others and those are the ones you should go with. Use the site of the Department of Energy to learn more about this and calculate what’s the proper R-value for where you live.
Apply for rebates and credits
Sometimes, people give up on an insulation process just because it’s too expensive. And that’s wrong! It’s true that these kind of house development processes can end up costing more than you might think, but that’s no reason to abandon them altogether. Getting them done can cost you now but will pay its dividends later on in all the energy savings you’ll get.
So, if you’re undecided whether you should spend that kind of money in insulation, consider applying for a credit or rebate. Many states have energy offices that offer rebates, discounts and financial incentives for the process and its materials. It’s just a matter of finding the one you need and going with it.
Always think green
If you’re going to revamp anything in your house, you should always choose the greener alternative. Insulation isn’t the exception. There are various green insulation products on the market that will serve you as good as any other. Besides, they won’t just serve their insulation purpose: they’ll also provide you with additional benefits.
From being free of contaminants and additives that can be dangerous for your health to being the easiest to install, there are lots of reasons why you should think green first.
Winter can be a tough time but with the proper insulation it doesn’t have to be! The best of all is that you don’t have until next winter to put these tips to the test. There’s no better time than today to start insulating your home and get the most cost-effective and energy-efficient way to be comfortable throughout the coldest days of the year!
Posted February 05, 2015
by Gabriel Posternak.