When we talk about comfort and energy efficiency, two things come to mind. The first is properly sealing your vents and air ducts. The second is insulation.
While most people understand the need for attic insulation, they don’t often consider other areas where home insulation can really make a big difference – in both your home’s temperature and your monthly energy bills. Further, while most people have insulation in place already, they may not be aware that they do not have enough.
With these things in mind, this quick article is going to discuss some great home insulation tips for homeowners and business owners alike.
Why Do Homes Need Insulation
Before we can answer the question, “Why do homes need insulation?” we must first understand how insulation works to help regulate your temperature and decrease the amount of effort your HVAC system requires to keep your house comfortable.
The easiest way to think of the heating process is to consider heat an invading army. Its nemesis? Cold air. Heat is like the Terminator – it won’t yield until there is no cold air left – with the idea in mind that all temperature in the house shall be the same. That temperature is, hopefully, determined by you and your HVAC system settings. The reverse is true for air conditioners. Their job is to send out cold air (or more accurately air that is colder than what is currently in the room) until all of the air in the designated area is the right temperature.
During this process, heat travels toward its target in one of three ways. The first method is known as conduction, which is used to explain the way that heat travels through materials. If you have ever left a wooden spoon in a pot of boiling water and then grabbed it with your bare hands later, you have experienced conduction; the spoon was normal temperature when you left, but conducted heat and grew hotter from the boiling water, moving from the bottom of the spoon to the handle.
Another way that heat travels is via convection – that is through gases and liquids. Warmer air rises, cooler air lowers into your room.
Finally, radiation (don’t be alarmed!) involves heat traveling in a straight line, heating any solids that it comes in contact with.
The purpose of insulation is to provide a barrier, blocking the heat from leaving certain areas. Consider the convection method of heat for instance. Since warm air rises as cold air sinks, if there is no insulation in your attic (or not enough), you risk the warm air escaping outside, versus being trapped inside. If your warm air escapes, your HVAC will have to work that much harder to warm your house and keep you comfortable.
Tips for Home Insulation
Perhaps the best tip I can give you for ensuring your home is properly insulated is to begin the whole process by having an energy audit conducted by a certified home energy professional. The process involves an overall energy assessment of your home to determine how energy efficient it is.
There are different levels of home energy audits that can be performed, but usually an inspector will be looking for any air leaks in the house or building, the condition and function of existing HVAC systems, moisture issues, type and effectiveness of your existing insulation and any leaks in your ventilation or duct system. In addition, they will likely want to know if you have any complaints over temperature control or comfort within your home.
Another home insulation tip concerns insulation types. Not all insulation is the same and different types work better for different areas of your home, situations and even region. A home contracting professional can guide you through choosing the right type of insulation – or tell you if your current insulation is up to par. I’ll also be publishing a future article discussing the different types of insulation, so be sure to stay tuned for that!
Finally, consider replacing old or bad insulation with new insulation. Check for moisture and mold build up, pieces that are too compressed or breaking apart, and so forth. Always be sure to wear proper protection, such as gloves and safety goggles when fooling around with insulation. And when in doubt, call a licensed home contractor, such as Tracy Tesmer Design/Remodeling. Even if we cannot help in your particular situation, we will be more than happy to give a referral to someone who can!