Importance of Insulation
According to the North American Insulation Manufacturers Association, there are over 45 million homes in America that lack sufficient insulation by modern energy standards. Adequate insulation reduces the home’s energy bills and can make the home quieter and more comfortable.
Types of Insulation
Batts, rolls, and blankets. Fiberglass insulation is usually precut into batts, rolls, or blankets. Batts are strips specifically sized to fit between wall studs. Fiberglass rolls can be rolled out on attic floors. Blankets are commonly used to insulate basement or crawl space ceilings. Mineral wool insulation, an eco-friendly insulation product, is also available in blankets.
Loose fill. Loose fill is preferred by insulation contractors for attics because it can be blown in, creating an on-the-spot blanket. Cellulose is preferred over fiberglass. Loose fill is easily installed around pipes and on top of existing insulation.
Foam insulation. Foam insulation has the highest R-value of all insulation types. Various formulas, including spray foam and rigid foam board, can be used in all areas of a structure, including wall cavities, under roof decking, and even around inground concrete slabs. Foam insulation comes in both expanding and nonexpanding varieties. Nontoxic and soy versions are also available. Some types are highly mold resistant, cannot be damaged by water, and can easily fill irregular spaces.
Cellulose. Cellulose insulation is an eco-friendly loose-fill material made from paper mixed with flame retardants. Cellulose insulation is blown into spaces.
Radiant barriers. Radiant barriers are foils or films that are engineered to reflect radiant heat back in the direction it came from. Radiant barriers can be installed in several areas in the home, but they are often installed in the attic on the underside of the roof rafters.
Signs of Poor Insulation
High utility bills. When a home is poorly insulated, air escapes through any small opening. In turn, the HVAC system must run more, which shortens its lifespan and equals more energy usage and higher utility bills.
Ice dams. A house that lacks sufficient insulation loses a lot of heat in the winter through the roof. The warm air melts snow on the top of the roof, which then refreezes at the edge of the roof, causing ice dams and icicles. Ice dams damage shingles, gutters, and roofs.
Dusty rooms. Inadequate insulation in a house can allow too much air to flow in and out, which can lead to elevated levels of dust in the home.
Hot and cold spots. Uninsulated spaces and poor-quality fiberglass insulation used in the corners of rooms are common culprits of uneven temperatures indoors. An insulation contractor will be able to recommend possible solutions.