Expert Tips and Procedures to Determine the Right Home Insulation
It is important to keep in mind that not all insulation materials are the same and are not interchangeable either. You need to have a basic understanding to determine what you should expect from building and insulation materials as a part of the home’s assembly.
If you don’t have knowledge of how insulation works or what type of house insulation is cost-effective and practical to achieve energy efficiency in the house, it is best to hire experts such as Conejo Valley Insulation.
Of course, your home‘s energy efficiency largely depends on the insulation installation contractor you hire. Conejo Valley Insulation, in this regard, works with a team of highly experienced and trained professionals who have the right expertise to fill every cranny and nook of your home to avoid costly leaks.
If you’re considering installing the best insulation type, you’ve come to the right place. Read on to learn about the building science behind insulation, its importance, and the different types to make an informed decision.
Table of Contents
- What is Insulation, and How Does It Work?
- Choosing the Right R-Value for Your Home
- Types of Insulation
- The Best Time for Home Insulation
- Signs That Your Home Need Insulation
- Where Do You Need It?
- Summing Up
What is Insulation, and How Does It Work?Insulation refers to the process that provides or maintains heat flow in the home. It can lower the cooling and heating cost if you properly insulate your home. Insulation is necessary if you want to improve comfort and energy efficiency in the house. Common insulation materials, such as fiberglass or blow-in insulation, work by slowing down the conduction of heat flow. Reflective insulation and radiant barriers reduce heat gain. To do a better job, your reflective space or surface should face an air space. Regardless of the system, heat flows from a hotter to a cooler surface until there’s no temperature difference. That means heat directly flows from heated spaces to unheated basements, garages, attic, and to the outdoors in winter. It doesn’t end here as heat flow also moves indirectly via interior ceilings, floors, and walls – wherever the temperature is different.
Also Read: Everything to Know About Blown-in Insulation
Choosing the Right R-Value for Your Home
Before you choose an insulation type for your home, you need to know how much insulation your home requires. Determining the R-value of the area is the best way to get started.
R-value is the maximum thermal performance your home needs to stay cool in summer and warm in winter. It gauges insulation’s ability to resist heat flowing or traveling through it. A home’s high R-value shows the optimal thermal performance of insulation. It means you waste less energy on heating and cooling the house.
Note that not all homes have the same R-values as it varies depending on location and climate. However, to insulate exterior walls, the typical recommendation is R-13 to R-23, and for attic spaces and ceilings it is R-30, R-49.
The Federal Energy Star Program provides a handy chart comprising different R-values to help you determine the right one to insulate the house.
Types of Insulation
» Blanket Batts and RollsCommonly known as Batt insulation, it is made of plastic fiber, mineral wool, natural fiber, and fiberglass. You can have this type of insulation with or without facing. However, many people opt for facing batt insulation as it blocks the vapor. Get batts with robust flame-resistant facing if you want to leave insulation exposed in the areas like the basement. The benefit of choosing batt insulation is that they are easily available. You can install them in unfinished floors, crawl spaces, ceilings, and attic. However, the R-value of batt insulation is between R-2.9 and R-3.9 per inch thickness. That means you need to install 10 to 12 inches of insulation for optimal results.
» Concrete BlocksConcrete blocks are for building walls and foundations. If you don’t fill cores with concrete and steel for structure support, you can fill them with insulation to improve the wall’s R-value. Using insulated concrete blocks is the right choice as they add a layer of insulation by taking advantage of materials used in the foundation. If your home is new construction or you’ve made major additions, concrete blocks are a better choice. But it is worth mentioning that insulated concrete blocks are not good enough to improve insulation. It can pass heat through the uninsulated concrete. That means you still need to install insulation over the block’s surface, either the interior or exterior of the foundation walls.
» Rigid Foam or Foam BoardInsulation foam comprises rigid panels that you can use on just about all parts of your home. Whether you install panels on the roof or the foundation, they work the same way while offering a higher R-value compared to other insulating materials. Also, the insulation foam board is super easy to install and work with. However, you need to knock down the walls to use foam board or rigid foam to insulate existing walls. It also requires that you install the board and re-drywall.
» Loose-Fill and Blown-In InsulationThis insulation type uses small fiber particles, foam, and several other materials. An expert insulation contractor blows the material into spaces. You can use it for wall insulation, ceiling insulation, attic insulation, and other crawl spaces. Loose-fill and blown-in insulation are the best methods if you don’t want much disruption. The insulation type is environmentally friendly as it uses recycled waste materials. This could include materials like cellulose that comes from recycled newsprint (fiberglass containing 20 percent to 30 percent recycled glass) and mineral wool that has more than 75 percent of post-industrial recycled material. You need to seal air on the walls or attic and install soft venting for blown-in insulation if required. Also, insulation may require cutting and refitting poorly laid batts and plumbing. If your home has areas with a lot of moisture, they may develop mold that can affect blown-in insulation. That is why it is essential to ensure that you seal the areas properly before blowing. Make sure you hire a professional insulation contractor such as Conejo Valley Insulation to install blown-in insulation, unlike fiberglass batts, which you can install yourself.
» Foamed-in-Place and Sprayed Foam InsulationThis type uses liquid foam to spray the areas in need of insulation. Once sprayed, the foam hardens into insulation material that is very effective and long-lasting. You can use spray foam on the walls, on the attic, under floors, and below a roof. Sprayed foam even fills tiny cavities and reduces air leakage. You can also use spray foam insulation around wires, windows, pipes, and door frames. The insulation type comes in two forms: closed-cell and open-cell. The closed type is more effective but expensive compared to the open-cell type, which is not good for ground level as it absorbs water. We recommend you opt for an energy audit before your purchase to determine the best insulation type for your home. Hire a reliable company that offers low-cost or free audits.
» Cotton InsulationCotton insulation comes in a unique batt form like stone wool and fiberglass. It works excellently at low temperatures and during high winds. It is because cotton insulation is not only effective for thermal performance but also for sound absorption. Also, installation is easier than other types, and it doesn’t require any protective gear. The insulation type contains 10 percent boron-based fire retardant- a non-toxic, natural mineral. In addition to that, cotton insulation is resistant to pests, mold, and fungus and takes significantly less energy to make. It doesn’t contain any irritants or chemicals and is completely safe to install.
» Polyisocyanurate InsulationThough Polyisocyanurate is a great product for some applications, it comes with some notable limitations. It is quite moisture-sensitive, which is why you need to make sure not to expose it to water, whether during construction or service life. Panels have strong foil membranes on each side. If the environment is right (warm and dry) polyisocyanurate is a preferred foam product as it provides high performance. However, the GWP of this insulation type is low. Know that its foil membrane serves as a vapor barrier to the wall, and tape acts as an air barrier.
The Best Time for Home Insulation
As mentioned earlier, home insulation is necessary to maintain an optimal and comfortable temperature, regardless of the season. When you insulate your home before the season, it is an excellent way to seek protection from fluctuating temperatures in the house. If you live in a region that experiences all four seasons, insulating your house during the summer is ideal before winters hit your city.
However, if you live in warm cities such as Los Angeles, consider insulating your home during winter. The city’s climate is naturally warmer and needs to be taken into account before you choose the insulation type. Winter is typically the best time for insulating a home as you don’t use cooling appliances during the season. Planning for hot days ahead of time is a great way to escape the heat.
In the same line, when residing in areas that experience cold for longer, it is better to insulate before chilly weather begins. When you insulate your home during the summer, it makes the environment comfortable and cozy before the temperature drops.
In parts of the Midwest, you might need to insulate your home during spring or fall. This way, your home will be able to maintain temperatures even before it’s time to switch on air conditioners or furnaces. Keep in mind that extreme temperatures during the winter or summer can cause your energy bills to rise.
Insulating homes in the mild seasons save homeowners money and reduces the toll on heating and cooling systems.
Signs That Your Home Need Insulation
» Fluctuating Temperatures in RoomsThe heat distribution in the home is an inevitable telltale of poor insulation. If your bedroom feels cooler compared to the rest of the home, it could be an indication of a drafty door or window or a pipe traveling via an uninsulated area of your home. The hot air from your HVAC passes through the cool spot, which changes the temperature.
» Increasing Energy BillsYour energy bills don’t lie when it comes to highlighting temperature shifts in the house. You need to evaluate monthly bills to see any spike in heating and cooling costs. If there’s a sharp increase in the energy bills, it is an indication that your HVAC is pushing the system harder to maintain optimal temperature settings. Even a tiny leak through the wall or hole in the roof leads to poor insulation and higher energy bills.
» Freezing Interior WallsThe touch test is a proven way to determine if your walls or ceiling require insulation. Remember that a well-insulated home has floors, ceilings, and interior walls that are dry and warm to touch. However, if they feel damp, cold, or moist, it is a sign of temperature loss due to cracks or under insulation.
Also Read: How to Choose the Right Insulation
Where Do You Need It?
Considering where your home needs to add insulation is another important aspect of this process. If you want to insulate the walls that are already built, you might want to choose blow-in insulation. But if it is for a crawl space or existing attic, you can use foam board or blanket insulation.
In a nutshell, home insulation helps you keep the temperature in the home livable and cozy. It keeps you prepared for the coming season while lowering the energy bills. Thus, the article elaborates on different types of insulation to help you choose one that fits your needs the best.
If you’re still unsure why you need to pick the right insulation for your home, call Conejo Valley Insulation services to seek assistance and guidance