Insulation in Huntsville and Nashville
Insulation – To Insulate, or Not Insulate…
Of the products that C and K Roofing & Construction offers for home improvement, insulation might be the one that raises the most questions. We have found that while replacement windows, roofing and siding are tangible, “see it, touch it, feel it” products and are therefore easy to relate to, insulation isn’t so much.
Most folks know that a home with good insulation is a more energy efficient home. But so many people don’t know what constitutes “good insulation,” or how to determine whether the existing insulation is up to par.
With fall here and winter rapidly approaching, we thought this might be a good time for an insulation “lesson”!
What follows are a host of tips and other information about insulation, as culled from the United States Department of Energy website and Professional Home.
- Consider factors such as your climate, home design, and budget when selecting insulation for your home.
- Use higher R-value insulation, such as spray foam, on exterior walls and in cathedral ceilings to get more insulation with less thickness.
- Install attic air barriers such as wind baffles along the entire attic eave to help ensure proper airflow from the soffit to the attic. Ventilation helps with moisture control and reducing summer cooling bills, but don’t ventilate your attic if you have insulation on the underside of the roof. Ask a qualified contractor for recommendations.
- Be careful how close you place insulation next to a recessed light fixture—unless it is insulation contact (IC) rated—to avoid a fire hazard. See the Lighting section for more information about recessed lights.
- Follow the manufacturer’s installation instructions, and wear the proper protective gear when installing insulation.
Long-Term Savings Tips
One of the most cost-effective ways to make your home more comfortable year-round is to add insulation to your attic, including the attic trap or access door, which is relatively easy.
To find out if you have enough attic insulation, measure the thickness of the insulation. If it is less than R-30 (11 inches of fiberglass or rock wool or 8 inches of cellulose), you could probably benefit by adding more.
If your attic has enough insulation and proper air sealing, and your home still feels drafty and cold in the winter or too warm in the summer, chances are you need to add insulation to the exterior walls.
This is more expensive and usually requires a contractor, but it may be worth the cost—especially if you live in a very cold climate. If you replace the exterior siding on your home, consider adding insulation at the same time.
You may also need to add insulation to your crawlspace or basement. Check with a professional contractor for recommendations.
Question: I want to lower my heating bills, which I am afraid are going to be outrageous this year, but don’t know if I should be adding more insulation, or replacing the furnace. Is there any rule of thumb guide to determine which is better?
There really aren’t any simple rules to help us decide which upgrade to make first to reduce our heating bills because specific circumstances can vary so widely. Generally speaking, however, if the insulation in the attic is under 6-8 inches thick, upgrading should easily be cost effective under most circumstances. If the heating equipment is over 40 years old, it’s a pretty good bet that upgrading to a high efficiency unit will be well worth the investment.
Since we are basically looking for a return on investment, you should look at the inexpensive improvements first. An amazing amount of heat loss occurs due to air exfiltration; in other words, warm air escaping the house because of poor sealing. Correcting poorly sealed components in the house is usually inexpensive. Some of the culprits that we often find while inspecting homes include poorly sealed attic doors or access panels, whole house fans without winter covers, suspended ceilings below attic space without a sealed ceiling above, cracks or gaps in ceiling finishes, especially in closets, open chase ways around chimneys or plumbing vent pipes, fireplaces with poorly sealed, missing or open dampers, older unsealed recessed lights, poorly mounted ceiling fixtures of any kind, kitchen and bath ventilators that don’t fully close when not being used, and the obvious poorly sealed windows and exterior doors.
Just because you don’t feel cold air coming in doesn’t mean that warm air isn’t escaping. Take the time to look around your house for potential points of heat loss. These can involve simple repairs, not requiring major upgrades and can save you a lot of money. You may need more insulation and a new furnace, but don’t forget the little things that can save a lot.
Click here for more information on insulation.