If your home experiences extreme temperature fluctuations during the summer and winter, chances are it lacks sufficient insulation and air sealing. Space heaters and air conditioners are only temporary fixes to a larger problem. If your home is not well-insulated, the conditioned air you’re spending your hard-earned money on will escape through your home’s crevices into the outside air. Improper insulation causes a home to have poor energy efficiency, which contributes to skyrocketing energy bills during the summer and winter seasons.
Insulation blocks heat from escaping or entering your home and is commonly installed on roofs, ceilings, walls, and floors. Well-insulated homes are more energy efficient and can therefore save you money on your energy bills. Proper insulation will also help your home maintain a constant, comfortable temperature in every season.
The type of insulation you choose to use in your home depends both on the area you want to insulate and the insulation’s R-value. R-value is a measure of an insulation’s thermal resistance, or how well the material blocks heat flow. R-value is also dependent upon the thickness and kind of insulation. There are many different types of insulation, including spray foam insulation, cellulose insulation, attic insulation, and crawlspace insulation.
Spray Foam Insulation
Spray polyurethane foam (spray foam) insulation is a mixture of liquid chemicals that react to produce foam. It expands quickly after it is sprayed, making it perfect for air sealing and insulating a home’s small cracks and crevices. Shortly after expansion, it will harden, creating a strong thermal barrier and air barrier. Spray foam is most often used in crawlspaces, knee walls, basement rim joists, overhangs or cantilevers, and bonus rooms. Spray foam’s unique properties allow it to fit easily around framing and act as an air sealant, making your home more energy efficient because air can no longer escape through cracks and crevices.
Closed cell spray foam insulation has a high R-value of up to R-6.9 per inch, and is water resistant, long lasting, and sag resistant. It can also reduce the pollen and allergens that enter your home through insulation and air gaps.
If spray foam insulation is not installed properly by experts, the chemicals may not be mixed correctly, which can prevent the foam from binding to the surface. Poor chemical mixing techniques can also result in off gassing odors and potential health problems.
Cellulose insulation is a fiber insulation material made from up to 85% recycled paper. Small pieces of paper are fiberized so they can be densely packed to slow down airflow. The material is treated with non-toxic chemicals such as mineral borate that works as a flame retardant and resists pests and mold. Reusing materials like recycled newspapers in cellulose insulation prevents the material from sitting in landfills and releasing harmful greenhouse gases when they decompose.
Although it is made from paper, cellulose insulation will not make your home vulnerable to fire. Cellulose insulation has a Class 1 Fire Rating and can help control the spread of fire. It can easily fit around framing joists, recessed light fixtures, and other obstacles, helping to increase the effectiveness of the insulation because it can be tightly packed. Cellulose insulation is inexpensive compared to other types.
However, cellulose insulation can’t be used in areas that are prone to moisture, as it is not waterproof. After water damage occurs, it takes an extensive period of time to dry, making it vulnerable to mold and rot. Its R-value can be as high as 3.7 per inch.
Air sealing and insulating your attic can help prevent air from escaping through your home, saving you money on energy bills and improving your home’s energy efficiency. Cellulose insulation is often used in attics because of its low cost and ability to fit easily in small areas. However, cellulose insulation should be paired with air sealing, because cellulose insulation is only a thermal barrier. Be sure to consult a professional and have them perform a home energy audit before making your choice.
It is easy to forget about your crawlspace when you are looking to upgrade the insulation in your home. Crawlspaces can develop unpleasant odors if they are not properly air sealed, which signifies that molding and rotting are surely on the way.
Crawlspace encapsulation prevents these problems and transforms your crawlspace into a basement-like storage space. Encapsulation involves installing a vapor barrier to combat moisture and insulating the crawl space walls with waterproof closed cell spray foam insulation. Crawlspace insulation will improve the comfort and energy efficiency of your home, reduce bugs, lower dust levels, and improve indoor air quality. Crawlspace encapsulation with spray foam insulation must be installed by a professional and is more expensive than other options.