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Winter is just a couple of months away, and the last thing you want to be dealing with this winter is a poorly insulated home. So if you need to add extra insulation to your home, you ought to get on it right away. But how will you know if your home needs extra insulation? How much will it cost you? Which kind of insulation works best? Here’s a brief introduction to home insulation to answer these questions and more.
Does My Home Need insulation?
Your home will already have some amount of existing insulation. But how do you find out if that insulation is enough or if you need to add to it? Here are some telltale signs.
1. Energy Efficiency
A well-insulated home will be energy efficient irrespective of what time of the year it is. A comparative analysis of your month on month energy bills ought to be a good indication of whether your home is energy efficient or not. A home with well-insulated walls, doors, windows, and attic should not have very high energy bills.
A lot of energy companies offer their subscribers dashboards that show the variances in their energy usage. If you observe drastic spikes and dips in your usage, you may need to check your home’s insulation.
2. Temperature Consistency
Your HVAC system is responsible for maintaining consistent airflow and temperature inside your home, but your home’s insulation is largely responsible for keeping that air from leaking out. So if you notice inconsistencies in the airflow and temperatures from room to room, it is a sign that your home’s insulation may have been compromised.
These damages could not only affect the heating and cooling capabilities of your HVAC system, but they will also increase your energy bills noticeably.
3. Frozen Pipes
If your exterior walls are poorly insulated, you have a higher chance of your pipes getting frozen, especially if you live in colder climates. Frozen pipes can rupture and cause thousands of dollars in water damage.
So if you do notice that your pipes are beginning to freeze, take a look at your home’s insulation immediately.
Our windows and doors are one of our primary insulators against cold winds. So if you feel cold drafts entering your home, you may have cracks and crevices that you need to address. Once again, this calls for re-examining the efficiency of your home insulation.
5. The Touch Test
The touch test is another way to determine if you need to consider adding insulation to your home. The surfaces inside your home, like your walls, floor, and ceiling, should always feel warm and dry to the touch. On the other hand, the outside walls of your home should feel cold. This means the insulation in between is keeping your home warm.
However, if you feel dampness and coldness on your interior walls, it is a definite indicator that you need to revamp your insulation.
6. Water Leaks
If you have water leaks in your attic space or around your windows, it is another irrefutable sign of poor insulation. Not addressing this immediately can lead to mold and over time, more severe water damage.
7. Room Temperature
If you have well-ventilated rooms in your home that have severely different temperatures, the cause is most likely to be poor insulation. This is because poor insulation allows heat as well as cool air to escape the room, causing drastic differences in temperature.
What to Do Next?
If you see one or more of these signs, we’d advise you to hire an insulation professional to conduct an energy audit of your home. This will give you a clear indication of what insulation damages your home has sustained, and how best you can insulate different areas of your home.
How Much Will It Cost?
There are 4 main factors that will affect how much your insulation costs will be. These factors are:
Insulation costs are normally calculated per square foot. So the larger the area that needs to be insulated, the more you will end up spending.
2. Local Climate
Your local climate will affect the amount of insulation you will need, and therefore, the cost of insulation. Those in warmer and more humid climates will need less insulation than those in colder climates.
This is a thermal measurement unit for materials in relation to how well they insulate. This means that all insulation materials display their R-Values. Those in warmer climates require insulation materials with a lower R-Value, while those in colder climates need a higher R-Value insulator.
For example, if you are looking at attic insulation, the Department of Energy recommends an R-Value of R-49 for cold climates, R-38 for temperate climates, and R-30 for warm climates.
4. Type of Insulation
There are four main types of insulation that are used for homes. How much you spend will also depend on which one of these you choose.
Types of Insulation
Let’s now take a quick look at the four types of insulation.
1. Spray Foam Insulation
While spray foam insulation may not be the cheapest alternative, it is the best choice when it comes to sealing gaps and cracks inside your walls while increasing the resale value of your home.
The way this works is by spraying liquid polyurethane into wall cavities and into spaces between boards in crawl spaces. The liquid fills up existing gaps before hardening into foam and effectively sealing the gaps.
Spray foam comes in two types: open-celled foam and closed-cell foam. Closed-cell foam has the highest R-Value of any insulator.
Closed-cell foam insulation will cost you between $1 to $2 per board foot, while open-cell will cost you between $0.35 to $0.55 per square foot.
2. Blown-In Insulation
This is a popular type of cellulose insulation. The method to install insulation involves attaching a box of borate treated cellulose pellets to a blower and blowing in the pellets to tightly fill the spaces that need insulation.
The average cost of blown-in insulation is approximately $500 for a 1500 square foot home if done DIY, which should not be a problem considering the ease of application.
Read more: Blown in insulation cost
3. Fibreglass Insulation
Fiberglass batt insulation is among the most inexpensive methods to insulate spaces with open walls, such as attics.
Fiberglass batts cost between $0.49 to $1.19 per square foot. They come in large rolls that are designed to fit on the open wall studs. This is an effective method of air sealing attics.
Read more: Fiberglass insulation worth
4. Radiant Barrier Insulation
Radiant barrier insulation works by reducing radiant heat gain, therefore keeping your home warmer in winters and cooler in summers.
At an average cost of between $0.15 to $0.30 per square foot, this is the ideal insulation type for attics in warm climates. If you want more information about this, read: Radiant barriers essentials.
Read more: 5 Ways to prepare your home for winter