As your home ages over the years, it becomes less and less effective in keeping out the cold air, and keeping in the warm air. Most homeowners can relate to this, and easily. And as the winter approaches, problem areas will surface, and it will become clear that it’s now time to re-insulate the home. The truth is, there’s much more to home energy efficiency than improving insulation – and that includes everything from air sealing, to weatherizing, to enhancing R-Values.
An energy efficient home conserves energy, saves money on utilities, and provides home comfort. Conversely, a home that isn’t energy efficient is simply wasting energy and wasting money. The thing is, there are a number of determining factors when deciding about insulation replacement. And clearly, most symptoms should be obvious to a homeowner. But there are times when more professional guidance is valuable – in assessing a situation, and providing a solution.
Air-conditioning and/or furnace running erratically
Insulation doesn’t just keep the house warm and cozy – it also serves to maintain steady levels of temperature throughout the house, regardless of the outside weather. It means that the home is consistently warm in the wintertime and cool in the summer. Constant temperature fluctuations throughout the home are a sign that existing insulation may not be effectively performing.
Unusually high (and ever-rising) seasonal utility bills
One quick look at the monthly utility bills will reveal how well a home’s insulation is performing. Another sure sign of performance is a comparison of bills from year to year. And although rates do change regularly, it’s not difficult to assess spending trends. Anything unusual, like an upward trend in usage (without explanation) is a sign of problems (failing insulation/air leakage).
Visible icicles or ice dams on the outside of the building
A sure indicator of under-performing insulation is the forming of icicles from the home’s eaves and gutters. Beyond the evident signs that something is wrong, icicles (and ice dams) can damage a roof, making for more work than just insulation. There are various technical reasons for icing but clearly poor insulation and significant air leakage in the attic are enough to be the cause.
Warm attic area and visible condensation throughout
If there is excessive moisture collecting and accumulating in the attic, and it shows up on walls or ceilings, this could be a sign that attic insulation is not performing its job. A warm attic will cause moisture to condense and therefore trickle down into the home. This is the right time to replace insulation, and to avert the potential for mould to grow and spread, creating bigger problems.
Variable temperatures from room to room in the home
It’s not uncommon in a typical home for rooms to vary in temperature. However, big differences in temperature may suggest that air leakage and poor ventilation are contributing to poor energy efficiency. A well insulated home should have a uniform feel throughout every room. This is quite attainable, especially when air sealing, weatherizing, and insulation all work in tandem.