Things have changed dramatically over the years with home energy. And while indoor personal comfort has become more of a priority, saving money on seasonal utilities has become equally important. Simply put, the days of randomly jacking up the thermostat are gone. Today, it’s about conserving energy and saving money. And more homeowners are learning how to make their home energy efficient. For many, there’s an understanding that optimum energy performance is about a home that is properly sealed, well insulated, and appropriately ventilated.
Obvious signs of insulation problems
Problems with home insulation are actually quite obvious. In winter, homeowners will complain about cold floors and walls that are cold to the touch. There may be rooms where heating levels are uneven. And, of course, the heating bill seems to be higher than it should be. In summer, its similar – some areas of the home are uncomfortably hot; air conditioning costs seem to be high; and the HVAC system is being overworked.
The effectiveness of home insulation
Most homeowners relate to R-Value as a measure of insulation effectiveness. Higher R-Value is better – it delivers more resistance to the air movement in both summer and winter. Usually, a professional contractor will recommend the R-Value that suits the job, and meets the standard of the building code. However, the key to R-Value performance has much to do with the installation of materials, and achieving peak performance.
Effective insulation is about a “system”
Professionals don’t just install insulation. They will create a complete “system” to slow down the movement of warm air (summer and winter) while effectively curtailing the movement of air moisture. The system incorporates several components – an air barrier to block air movement; air sealing to ensure airtightness; and a vapour barrier to prevent moisture from moving around and allowing for unwanted condensation.
Attic insulation is an absolute must
In most homes, the attic is the best place to install high performance insulation. It’s cost-effective with an excellent return-on-investment. Depending on the budget, contractors may recommend a variety of product options, from loose fill insulation, to traditional fiberglass batts, to spray foam insulation. In the attic, air sealing is absolutely essential for the installed insulation to perform, and for maximized energy efficiency.
Basement walls require insulation
Compared to other parts of the home, basement walls are uniquely different. Summer and winter, basement walls experience moisture flow between the inside and outside of the house. The idea in the basement is to insulate and moisture proof at the same time. Both components are vital since most basements are below grade. Here again, budget will dictate whether the walls can be insulated from the outside or inside.
Doing home insulation right will reduce energy usage, save money around the year, and make the home more comfortable. While it’s true that high performance products may be more costly, the long-term savings will be more substantial – and will often offset the overall project investment in a very short amount of time.