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A Handy Guide to Home Insulation

Insulation in the home is what helps our houses stay warm in winter and cool in summer. Insulation in the walls, attics, and under the roof works to trap air, helping stabilize any changes in temperature. Insulation is measured in what is called the “R-value”, or the insulation’s resistance to passing heat through it. In general terms, the thicker the insulation is, the higher efficiency it has and the higher overall R-value it will have. Homeowners with good insulation values save money on utility costs. And, it is a relatively inexpensive upgrade, even to existing homes.

Types of Home Insulation

There are three major types of home insulation. Each has its own strengths, and the three types can be used together or separately, depending on the application. The three types of insulation are:

Batts and Blankets  

Perhaps the most familiar kind to many homeowners, batt and blanket insulation is usually made of fiberglass but can also be made of rock wool or even recycled denim. This type of insulation comes in rolls or sheets. The batts and blankets are laid between wall studs and ceiling joists. They are easy to install, even for the homeowner, and can add significant R-value to homes.

Loose Fill  

Loose fill insulation is made from several materials, but the most common are cellulose derived from recycled paper. It can also be made from fiberglass or rock wool, and some kinds can be made from minerals like vermiculite or perlite. This type of insulation is blown into place by a powerful air blower, usually into the attic and into wall cavities. It can be blown over existing insulation or installed separately to boost the home’s efficiency.

Spray Foam/Sprayed-in-place  

Although specialized equipment is needed to install spray foam insulation, the added expense is outweighed by incredible efficiency. Spray-in foam insulation is usually made from polyurethane, but eco-friendly foams are also available. The advantage of foam insulation is that it seals air gaps on its own and conforms to any space. Once it is sprayed, the material expands, filling any cracks that may be present. The end result is an insulated space that is free of drafts and air leaks.

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