Choosing the right insulation could save you hundreds
With memories of winter fading fast, you might not be thinking about your home’s insulation, but the warm months are the ideal time for some simple DIY insulation projects with huge paybacks to save you money on your bills. Proper insulation – from roof to foundation – helps keep your home cool in the summer (and warm and cozy in winter).
In fact, 90 percent of U.S. homes are under-insulated, according to analysis by the North American Insulation Manufacturers Association (NAIMA). Adding insulation to your home is an easy way to save yourself hundreds of dollars per year in both heating and cooling costs, while helping to make your home more comfortable year around.
A trip to your local home improvement store to choose insulation can be overwhelming, though, given the dozens of options. Many homeowners will gravitate toward fiberglass insulation, as it is likely what they have in their homes and is familiar.
Advantages of fiberglass batts and rolls include they are relatively inexpensive and fit the stud and joist spacing in most homes. While fiberglass insulation installs quickly, it can be challenging for the average homeowner to get it done right. “It’s very difficult to complete a fiberglass insulating job without leaving a few gaps in coverage, and even a small void can diminish a wall’s overall [insulating value] by 50 percent,” notes the Dr. Energy Saver company’s website. Homeowners should consider that fiberglass batt insulation does not continuously cover spaces, but fits between studs. The insulation may also slump and lose its insulating value over time, creating more energy-wasting gaps.
Rigid foam insulation
Another DIY insulation option available at home improvement stores throughout the U.S. is rigid foam insulation. Of the several rigid foams available, expanded polystyrene (EPS) can be used throughout the home, including walls, floors, ceilings and foundation walls. “EPS panels are lightweight and easy to cut and handle,” says Tom Savoy, technical director for Insulfoam. “EPS also installs easily over the home’s framing, providing continuous, high-performance insulation in a way that’s not possible with batts or rolls.”
Location, location, location
When planning where to add insulation, Savoy explains that one area to pay attention to is “knee walls,” which are short walls with attic space directly behind them. Such walls commonly lack insulation, but are a prime source for heat loss. “Although it can be difficult to access attic spaces behind knee walls, readily available “fanfold” EPS insulation fits through many attic access doors and hatches, and easily unfolds to cover up to 100 square feet,” says Savoy.
Garage doors also many times are un-insulated. To fix this common area of heat loss and heat gain, some EPS manufacturers offer garage door insulation kits designed to fit easily into the door’s segments, allowing the job to be completed in less than one hour.
For additional tips on where and how much to insulate, the U.S. Department of Energy provides information on adding insulation to an existing home.