It seems counter-intuitive today, but many years ago we had little problem living in a home that was overly drafty and poorly insulated. Today, things are quite different. Besides the fact that energy costs are steeper than ever, our attitudes have changed about energy conservation and energy efficiency. All this applies equally to warm climate zones, damp climate zones, and cold climate zones. We all just want to be comfortable in our indoor environments.
The bottom line when talking about energy consumption, energy conservation, and energy efficiency is INSULATION. And practically every expert in the field will agree that a so-called “healthy house” is one that is well sealed, well insulated and well ventilated. When indoor air circulation and moisture movement are well managed, the result is an indoor environment that is balanced and comfortable – a win-win.
A homeowner knows exactly when the insulation is inadequate. Walls are cold. Heating costs are high. Windows are drafty. And heating cycles are uneven. For the summer months just flip all those deficiencies once over. On the other hand, effective insulating materials, along with proper installation techniques can do away with all of the above, while delivering an enhanced level of indoor comfort, and substantially reduced energy costs.
As a starting point, the basics are important to understand. The effectiveness of insulation is measured in R-VALUE (the metric equivalent is RSI VALUE). The higher the R-value rating – the more resistance there is to air movement. With this kind of universal classification, building codes can specify minimum R-value requirements for various applications, including usage in new construction, retrofitting projects, and renovations.
When it comes to product options, industry experts everywhere agree that there is no better insulating material than spray foam insulation. Nothing seals better, and nothing prevents air and moisture movement better. The savings on seasonal utility bills are significant; mold and airborne pollutants are eliminated; and the improved indoor air environment contributes to better health and wellbeing for residents.
Spray foam insulation, commonly known as polyurethane foam, has become the product-of-choice for professionals in the insulation industry. The compound is sprayed directly into a roof, wall or floor cavity, and blankets the area like no other product. It presents as a thick liquid – quickly expands as it is applied – and just as quickly hardens into a dense layer of foam insulation. The final coating acts simultaneously as an air and moisture barrier.
Spray foam insulation will deliver the highest R-value rating of any insulation product on the market. And when expertly installed, the application leaves no gaps, cracks, or crevices – even those hard-to-reach spaces are filled, covered and sealed. In many cases, and with an energy-efficient furnace, a homeowner can save up to 40% on energy costs when the home is outfitted with spray foam insulation.
Overall, spray foam insulation is somewhat more costly than other products. But from a cost-benefit perspective, the cost makes sense. It’s a premium product that will deliver premium benefits. The installation will last a lifetime. There is no need for replenishment. And the “pay-back” period is between 2 and 7 years. This is truly a good investment for the home, especially when thinking about the long term.