You know you should do it. You’ve been meaning to do it. Put down the paint, stop with the yard work, and this weekend just do it: add insulation to your house. Reap the benefits for the remainder of the fall – and all winter long, then next summer, and through the seasons after that.
Three Reasons to Add Insulation
1. You need more insulation. The Harvard School of Public Health published a report stating nearly 45 million U.S. homes are under-insulated. So, unless your house was built in the last ten years, or you’ve just completed a full house renovation, it’s probably safe to assume yours is among them.
2. Insulation improves performance. Your house’s R-value goes up (good), plus your heating and cooling costs go down (really good.)
3. The basics are, well, pretty basic. So many choices can be intimidating, but insulating doesn’t need to be. As a general rule, batts are quick to install and work well between wall studs and attic floors. Blown-in insulation is excellent for insulating within walls and in irregularly shaped areas with lots of nooks and crannies. Working in an area prone to moisture (kitchens, baths, and exterior walls)? Make sure you install a vapor retarder.
How to Improve Your Home’s Energy Efficiency
Heating and cooling account for nearly half of the energy used in an average home. Cut your energy costs by following these easy tips.
Insulate when you renovate. Whether you’re doing it yourself or hiring a contractor, the optimum time to look at insulation levels is while the walls are open. If you are working with a contractor, ask about adding insulation. It is not something they always include in the estimate, but it’s well worth adding it to the scope of work.
Fill the attic. Ok, so exterior walls are hard to reach unless you are taking them down for a renovation project. Many attics have insulation on the attic floor, making it easy to access and even easier to add more insulation. Installing insulation in the form of batts or blown-in insulation will increase the thermal resistance of your home. Batts or rolls are readily available through lumberyards, hardware stores, or distributors. Use our Where to Buy tool to find a supplier near you.
Adding insulation is something you can do yourself. There are many resources available on the web that will walk you through the process – like our video series on installing batts. Designed for professionals, it’s a good primer to get you started.
Another good option for attics is blown-in insulation. It’s great at filling in those awkward corners and hard-to-reach spaces, and, with a bit of prep, it is something you can do yourself. The bonus: you get to rent this cool machine!
When insulating attics, always keep this in mind: NEVER cover attics vents with insulation. According to EnergyStar.gov, it’s one of the most common mistakes homeowners make.
Spray the gaps. Barrier spray foam insulation will prevent air leaks. CertaSeal INT™ is a water-based, liquid acrylic, spray-on solution that acts as a fast-drying sealant. Its vibrant blue color allows for immediate visibility and easy do-it-yourself application. Before applying, you will need a standard paint sprayer and gun, safety goggles, chemical impervious gloves, and an N95 respirator (NIOSH-approved). Before you spray, ensure that your surfaces are dust-, oil-, grease-, and debris-free. Then, in a swift motion, apply in a single pass. Allow 24 hours to dry.
Insulate your outlets. Often made from closed cell foam, these little insulators fit under the outlet or switch cover. Unscrew the switch or outlet cover, insert the precut foam piece, then replace the screws. And you’re done. Since air can sneak in around them, all outlets on exterior walls should be covered.
Schedule an energy audit. You don’t even need to break out the toolbox for this one. All you need is a phone. An energy assessment reviews your home’s energy use and provides a detailed plan to improve efficiency. The auditor goes room-by-room and conducts energy tests like the blower door test; many will also perform a thermographic scan of your home. This colorful readout shows you exactly where heat is being lost. To find a qualified auditor, first, check with your electric or gas utility – they may conduct assessments themselves or have local auditors they recommend.
If they cannot help, the Residential Energy Services Network provides a directory of certified energy raters and auditors. Look for someone authorized by the Building Performance Institute (BPI). A professional audit can cost between $300 and $500. Energy savings are estimated at 5-30%. Actual savings and how long it takes to recoup upfront costs depend on identified issues and completed recommendations.
If you have any questions, we’re always available to assist you. Don’t hesitate to reach out!