Thirty or fourty years ago, we were all quite content living in a drafty home, and cranking up the heat whenever we wanted. Well, things have changed - heating costs are now astronomical, cooling costs are the same, and we all want to live in a comfortable home that is fully temperature controlled. Today, the so-called “healthy home” is one that is well sealed, well insulated and well ventilated. It’s comfortable, but it’s also efficient.
In the insulation business, a properly insulated house is analogous to getting dressed appropriately for the weather outside. In some cases, a sweater will do fine; in other situations, you’ll need a raincoat; and when things get really extreme, you need a parka. The comparison with your home is comparable. The outside is usually comprised of brick or some sort of siding - then there’s an air barrier that is designed to prevent airflow - and finally, there’s a vapor barrier and some kind of insulation.
Now, depending on the age of your home, and the building code requirements at the time, the effectiveness of your insulation can vary greatly. Most of us know about R-values, but only the basics, and getting bombarded by marketing and advertising doesn’t much help. With the huge choice of products, and the vast range of applications, insulating your home can become confusing to the layperson. It makes sense, then, to work along side a reputable contractor who understands the kind of products available; has the know-how to solve problems and challenges; and has the expertise to properly install.
When it comes to exterior insulation, for example, this is something that involves much more that just applying and installing an insulation product. A good contractor provides the homeowner with an INSULATION SYSTEM – a system that maintains proper airflow, effectively manages the movement of moisture, and allows for well-balanced ventilation and air circulation. They will methodically choose a suitable product that matches the purpose and application required. And they will offer you the technical knowledge and the skilled installers to deliver the best performance possible for your particular home.
As homeowners, we’re actually quite familiar with many of the products available today, many of which have been enhanced and improved over the years. We’re all familiar with the STYROFOAM™ brand of rigid insulation, and we all know about PINK™ FIBERGLAS® insulation. But once again, that’s all marketing and advertising – for the complexities of installation, whether it’s for new construction or retrofit, insulation solutions are best provided by the experts in the field. Based on your specific need, they will know whether to recommend a conventional house wrap application or spray-foam insulation. They will know which insulation offers the highest R-value per inch, and they will advise on the best approach for installation.
Bottom line, nothing compares with an established and reputable insulation contractor. They have the trained professional installers; they offer the manufacturer’s product warrantees; and they subscribe to installation techniques that regard building standards and code specifications. At the same time, it doesn’t hurt to be an informed consumer!