Ditch the Duvet: How Insulation Makes Your Home Cozier
December 07, 2021
Do you have to resort to big bulky sweaters, blankets and duvets to stay warm ‒ even when the heat is on? Have you got a room in your home that’s freezing in winter and hot in summer, no matter what you do? Installing insulation could make a big difference.
But how does insulation work, exactly? How does it keep the warmth in and the brr out? We asked Bernie, our Training and Development Specialist to get a clearer picture of how it keeps your home more comfortable all year round.
What insulates your home isn’t the material itself: it’s the air/gas that’s trapped in the material. Whether you’re using blown cellulose, hemp batts, fiberglass, or spray-foam insulation, these products all work by trapping air/gas in the material. If you’ve ever seen someone making cotton candy, that’s how bat insulation is created: instead of sugar, it uses liquid glass. So there’s lots of room for air between all those fine strands.
R-value is a measure of how quickly heat/cold transfers through the material. (Insulation doesn’t stop heat or cold from moving through it, it just slows the effect.) The higher the R-value, the slower the transfer rate. High R-value material is thicker: an R31 bat would probably be 9”, while an R12 would be more like 3.5”.
The insulation that’s closest to the exterior wall traps cold air, and the part that’s closest to the interior holds onto the warm air. The cold air moves inwards and the warm air moves out, meeting in the middle. The closer you are to the inside wall, the warmer the trapped air will be, and the closer you are to the outside wall...well, you get the picture.
Spray foam works using the same principle: it contains microscopic gas bubbles (like an Aero chocolate bar). It may look solid, but it’s not the actual foam that’s insulating the house, it’s the trapped gas. Without getting too deep into the science of energy flow, the Second Law of Thermodynamics states that heat always moves from hot to cold. With insulation slowing this energy transfer, the higher the R-value of the insulation, the less you will feel the cold when you’re near an exterior wall: that’s what’s keeping you warm and cozy.
Want to dive deeper into the science? Read this explainer on “How heat moves.”
Getting the most bang for your buck: the 4 easiest ways to make your home cozier
- Insulate your attic first. Air-seal any pot lights and plumbing/wiring penetration with caulking or canister foam, then blow in insulation. This is the fastest, easiest way to make the biggest difference in the comfort of your home.
- Stop air infiltration from below. Basement floor joists can lead to as much heat loss as all your doors and windows combined: insulating the joistline space between your foundation wall and the main floor is an easy, inexpensive fix.
- Stop air leakage into the house. Caulk baseboards and windows, repair gaskets and seals on entry doors. Don’t overlook window trim: caulk it tight against the wall. Ask us how we can find air leakage paths in your home.
- Insulate exposed areas. If you’re not renovating, you probably don’t want to start tearing down walls and ceilings to add insulation. But adding insulation in easy-to-access places like unfinished basement walls and rim-joists, crawlspace walls and rim-joists can help.
Need more ideas on making your home cozier this winter? Give us a call to find out how we can help you ditch the duvet and make your house comfier all year long.