Insulating your home makes sense, both from a financial as well as an environmental perspective. Many homes already have some form of insulation, but upgrades to the types and amounts can help homeowners reduce expenses associated with heating and cooling. By reducing the strain on home HVAC systems, a homeowner can save money on utility costs and expensive repairs of HVAC system components. By using less electricity, homeowners are also reducing harmful greenhouse gas emissions like carbon dioxide. Not all insulation is the same, however. Different types of insulation have different applications, and each can help you save money on your electric bill. Here are some tips for choosing the right insulation for your home.
Types of Home Insulation
There are three major kinds of insulation for the home. These are:
Loose-fill or “blow in” insulation – usually made from recycled materials like cellulose (paper) or fiberglass. Loose-fill insulation can be used to fill wall cavities or to supplement other insulation types, such as in attics. It is installed with specialized blower equipment.
Batt or Blanket insulation – this is the type that most people are familiar with. The insulation comes in rolls or sheets of fluffy material, often made of fiberglass but also available in rock wool or recycled fabrics like denim recovered from old blue jeans. This kind of insulation is placed between wall studs and ceiling joists during construction of the home. It can be added to attics to boost thermal efficiency.
Spray foam insulation – often made from expanded polyurethane or other polymer materials, this type of insulation is applied with specialized equipment. It can be used in hard-to-reach areas like wall cavities of existing homes or applied during initial construction. Spray foam tends to have higher R-values, a measure of their efficiency, than other insulation types. It is also more expensive than other options.
Which Insulation is Right for Me?
A professional insulation expert can help you determine which insulation is best for your specific needs. New construction opens up the options available; adding each or all of the three major types is possible when wall studs and ceiling joists are exposed. For retrofitting older homes or to improve thermal efficiency in new homes, homeowners may have to choose one type over others.
No matter which type of home insulation you require, you will enjoy more comfortable interior temperatures and lower utility bills. The savings can add up; homes with recommended R-values of 40 or higher can save 20-30% on home heating and cooling costs. Adding insulation to the home can reduce noise from the outside – especially beneficial when the home is situated near busy roads. And, you’re doing the environment some good as well, reducing greenhouse gas emissions by reducing electricity use.