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How To Choose The Right Insulation When Renovating Your Home

August 21, 2018

Renovation time is probably the best time of all to upgrade and retrofit your insulation. Beyond the budget considerations, the next most important thing is to choose the right insulation. You may be adding some space to your home. You may be opening up the attic for another room. Or you may be creating a “bonus” room above the garage. Whatever the case, this is the perfect time to remedy air leakage issues, boost insulation performance, and improve ventilation throughout the home. All of it goes together, and all of it contributes to enhancing home energy efficiency.

A building is a "system" - so it’s important to choose the right insulation

As a building, your home comprises inter-dependent components that work together as a system. All of the building materials and all of the mechanical components interact from season to season, creating the indoor living environment for its occupants. When there are changes, like a renovation, the system is affected, sometimes with positive outcomes, sometimes negative. That’s why it’s so important to treat the house as a system and consider all of the various influences as a whole.

Renovation time is the perfect opportunity for a home energy evaluation 

While it’s important to choose the right insulation when planning for a retrofit, it’s wise to do a home energy evaluation before any of the work begins. With an EnerGuide Home Evaluation, a professional Energy Advisor undertakes a comprehensive assessment that incorporates both the exterior and interior of the home.

The Energy Advisor uses various diagnostic tools, including a “blower door test”, to collect data about the energy efficiency of the home. With EnerGuide, all the data is entered into simulation software in order to determine an EnerGuide Rating. The Energy Advisor also physically inspects the home during the test for air leakage pathways (holes). The results of the evaluation highlight the problems that need to be remedied.

Want to know what insulation is right for your renovations? Click here to schedule your free in-home assessment.

If you plan to do some renovations in the attic – make sure it’s done right

If you’re planning a renovation in the attic space, you should use a professional to reach maximum energy efficiency because of how your attic is actually independent of your home’s envelope. Besides the experience and expertise, professionals work according to the building code. Everything is installed according to manufacturer’s product specifications. And importantly, the building is approached as a “system” – which means that all of the inter-related mechanics are dealt with – insulation, air movement, and ventilation. The “system” can therefore work as a whole, and the home’s energy efficiency can be maximized. In this way insulation performance is also optimized, whether fibreglass, cellulose, or spray foam.

During a renovation, particularly when the attic is involved, there’s an opportunity to install an air barrier and vapour barrier while the space is wide open. Any professional will tell you that an air barrier is essential to energy efficiency – the continuous barrier prevents air leakage and thus allows the installed insulation to perform at its peak. Here again, it’s important to choose the right insulation that will deliver the most efficient, yet cost-effective results.

If you’re finishing the basement - air leakage and moisture control is key

When finishing the basement, both air leakage and moisture control must be addressed before any work commences. Done right, and with quality products, energy efficiency can be greatly enhanced in the basement. Air leakage can be blocked; air moisture can be controlled; and R-Values can be boosted – all at one time. With better energy efficiency, the entire house benefits. This may require the input of a specialized basement contractor.

Depending on the project budget, there are various options for insulating the basement – from fiberglass and mineral wool batts, to spray foam insulation, to basement blanket wrap.  During a renovation, there is more flexibility with installation. With a professional on hand, it’s possible to choose the right insulation for the job, and ensure the best return-on-investment.

When a basement is properly insulated, the dollar savings on heating and cooling are substantial throughout the year. More than that, you’ve created a basement living space that is comfortable in winter and summer. For best results, however, professional expertise is much preferred over the DIY option. By addressing the basement as a “system” insulation professionals deliver results.

If you want to add a “bonus room” to the garage - do it right the first time

Even in an existing “bonus room” above the garage, there are problems that make the room very cold in winter and very hot in summer. So it’s important when adding a brand new room, to do it right the first time. The exterior walls, the roof, and the flooring (above the garage) all have to be sealed and insulated to ensure energy efficiency. For the insulation to perform, its necessary for air leakage to be blocked, and moisture accumulation to be prevented.

If garage work is involved, there are building code requirements to follow. In most locales, an attached garage must be “gas proofed” in order to protect residents from being exposed to toxic fumes. This is best accomplished with an application of spray foam since the envelope will seal the space completely without allowing for incoming or outgoing air movement. With the spray foam application the space will also be highly insulated at the same time.

Want to know what insulation is right for your renovations? Click here to schedule your free in-home assessment.

Why updating insulation is so important during a planned renovation

Home insulation is probably the most important of all renovations when you consider the return-on-investment. No kitchen or washroom reno will deliver the same cost benefits as an upgrade to insulation. And when you choose the right insulation products, the retrofit will save big money on both winter and summer utilities.

The fact is, minimizing air leakage, along with enhanced insulation, can lower energy bills by a whopping 50%. That means that an insulation retrofit would pay for itself in a few short years. Upgraded insulation also provides enhanced comfort from season to season. And best of all, it will contribute to the home’s value.

Great Northern Insulation – the industry leader in residential insulation

Large renovation or small, Great Northern Insulation can provide licensed, certified installers to ensure improved energy efficiency. We help you to choose the right insulation and recommend products that are the most cost-effective.

For a FREE home energy assessment, contact Great Northern Insulation today at 1.800.265.1914 or fill out a form below. We’ll show you how a quality approach can make a difference for many years to come.

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