Having a well-insulated home is not only a great way to live toward a greener ideal, but to also save yourself some money on heating and cooling bills. Heat is constantly in movement moving from a warmer to a cooler area, i.e. escaping from within your warm house to the cold outside. This heat flow can be reduced through insulation giving your home a higher heat flow resistance also referred to as an R-value. The better your R-value, the more you save on bills and the more energy efficient your house is. This article presents what options you have when improving insulation, and looks at small to big changes.
Just a few changes and improvements can make a difference to your home. For example, if you have wood framed windows, check their frames for damages and if need be fill in any gaps with wood filler. If you have aluminium windows then you can add draught excluders for better insulation. As a lot of heat escapes through windows, consider what window treatments you have. Wooden blinds or wooden shutters are good for insulation and fit in well with most home décors. But heat can also escape through door gaps. Bottom door brush draught excluders are good at preventing this, and are discrete, too. The door draught excluders made out of material are more fun to look at, but can get in the way a bit.
As heat rises, another “hotspot” for it to escape is through your roof. The traditional insulation methods for an attic are loose-fill and batt insulation. Before choosing one of these insulation types, the attic must first be air sealed, meaning using a tightly constructed box to cover fan housings on the attic side of a duct and covering openings such as dropped ceilings, soffits, and bulkheads with plywood and sealing them towards the attic side of the ceiling.
Loose-fill insulation is cheaper than batt, and if done right loose-fill can provide better coverage. If you have vermiculite insulation in your attic, there’s a danger of it containing asbestos. Do not disturb it and instead hire an insulation contractor to handle it. Loose fill is generally blown into the attic above the ceiling joists by an expert, while batts ,which are mineral wool fibre sheets, can be placed in a criss-cross pattern between the joists by yourself, if you feel up to it.
Wall insulation differs between wood frame and solid brick frame walls. Wood frame wall insulation uses loose fill or sprayed foam, which is blown into the cavity of the wall via holes drilled into the drywall or siding. As a cavity of a solid brick wall is often 25 mm and therefore too small a fill to gain any insulation benefits, a professional must create a cavity. A new cavity wall is built on the interior side of the wall while board stock and new siding are applied to the exterior of the wall.
Basement insulation is advantageous but also a bit controversial as there are many factors which influence this. The energy savings and cost savings are dependent on the local climate and the type of heating system you have. Once you’ve checked if insulating your basement is the right thing for you and your home, you can then decide between wall or ceiling insulation. Wall insulation is easier and more common, and includes rigid insulation, like extruded polystyrene or rigid fibreglass being installed to the exterior of the walls. Ceiling insulation in an interior insulation, and can be costly due to the material being used.
Photo by Jeffrey Bell