What Kind Of Insulation Is Best For My Home?

Insulation is an often unseen component in every home, but the role that it plays is critical. When insulating your home, it’s crucial to understand the role insulation plays, how much you need, and where it should be installed.

Typically, insulation is placed in your walls and in your attic, where it prevents conditioned air from leaving your home. By preventing air leaks, insulation leads to increased energy efficiency — that way your HVAC system doesn’t have to work overtime to replace the cooled or heated air in your home. Proper insulation can lead to serious energy cost savings.

Poor or insufficient insulation can lead to costly energy bills and it can disrupt your comfort in your home. Here’s what you need to know to choose the insulation that’s best for your home.

START WITH AN ENERGY AUDIT

Performing a comprehensive energy audit on your home can tell you a lot about your energy efficiency. DIY kits are available to perform an energy audit on your own, but a professional assessor will give you the most accurate results.

Before meeting with an energy assessor, take a walkthrough of your home and note any areas where you have issues, such as condensation on your windows or drafts.

Once you’ve performed an energy audit and know where you’ll need to improve your insulation, you can make a more informed decision.

CONSIDER THE R-VALUE

Generally, the colder your climate the more insulation that you’ll need in your home. But, there does come a point where you’ve got too much of a good thing. The level of R-value you need is dictated by the climate zone that you live in.

Simply, the R-value is used to measure how much thermal efficiency a piece of insulation offers. The higher the R-value the more thermal efficiency it provides. However, over-insulating your attic — or sealing it too tightly — can create a vapor barrier, which allows moisture to settle and cause water damage.

If you’ve noticed an increase in your energy costs, it’s possible that your insulation has settled, which has reduced its efficiency. An energy audit will help you determine if you need to add or replace insulation to better insulate your home.

EVALUATE INSULATION MATERIALS

Insulation comes in different shapes and forms: from batts, boards, and blown-in to fiberglass, cellulose, and foam. Let’s take a quick look at some of the advantages and disadvantages of each.

Insulation Batts: Batts of insulation are generally made from fiberglass or cotton and come in pre-cut pieces. They are cost-effective and simple for anyone to install. They can also be purchased with an optional paper side, which provides a vapor barrier.

However, the fiberglass can irritate your lungs, eyes, and skin during installation, which requires you to wear protective clothing. When installed incorrectly, the R-value of the insulation will be reduced.

Rigid Boards: If you’re looking for insulation that’s a nice middle ground of performance and ease of installation, rigid boards are the way to go. The R-value performance per density is nearly on par with spray foam insulation (which provides peak performance). Rigid foam is also naturally moisture-resistant, which makes it a great option for areas of your home with high moisture content or moisture potential, like an unattached garage.

Because of its structure, rigid foam insulation can be a bit of a challenge to fit around pipes and joints. To remain airtight and effective, you’ll need to seal around cuts and joints with additional insulation or foam.

Blown-in Insulation: This type of insulation is usually made of fiberglass or cellulose. Because it’s made of smaller material it can fit into any space and fill any depth. It’s the least expensive type of insulation and can easily fill in around pipes and ductwork. It can even be reused!

When made of fiberglass, it’s equally as irritating as batts and requires proper clothing to install. Blown-in insulation also tends to hold moisture more than other types, which can lead to mold or performance issues.

Spray Foam: This type of insulation is the most effective because it essentially stops air movement in its tracks. Because it forms a solid foam, it fills any cavity and provides the highest R-value for its density. As a bonus, it eliminates the need for a vapor barrier and its density reduces sound transmission.

The superior efficiency of spray foam insulation comes with a significantly high monetary cost. Spray foam can be messy when it’s being installed, and it generally requires specific training and experience to install.

If you’re ready to beef up your insulation, Big C Lumber can help! Our team at your local Big C Lumber is ready to help you determine the type of insulation that’s perfect for your project. Contact us today to find out how we can help!