Insulating Your Home for Improved Energy Efficiency
In the winter, the walls, foundation and ceiling of your home are the only boundaries between the warm, comfortable interior and the cold temperatures outside. Although building materials reduce some heat transfer, adequate insulation is crucial for reducing the loss of heated air. The key to selecting insulation is the “R-value”, a measure of the insulation’s resistance to heat transfer. The higher the R-value, the better the insulation. For example, R-30 resists heat transfer better than R-11. In some cases, you may need to add only a few inches of insulation to existing insulation to increase the R-value to the recommended levels.
Air sealing your home is one of the most important steps in making it energy efficient. Air leakage accounts for 25 to 40 percent of the energy used for heating and cooling a typical home. Air leakage decreases the comfort of a home by allowing moisture and cold drafts into the living space; it also may lower indoor air quality. Identifying and sealing air leaks using appropriate materials can maintain a more consistent level of comfort throughout a home.
A substantial amount of heat may be lost through your attic because warm air passes through your cold ceilings. Attic insulation with appropriate air sealing is one of the best energy investments you can make for your home. Contractor-installed attic insulation will often yield a return on investment up to 40 percent – much better than the stock market or a savings account!
Heating Duct Insulation
Heating ducts running through unheated areas of your basement or attic can substantially reduce the efficiency of your heating system. Insulating exposed ducts can greatly decrease the amount of heat that is wasted from your furnace. You can prevent these losses by having your ducts wrapped with thick, vinyl-faced fiberglass insulation. Duct insulation protects against heat loss and will save you money.
Heating Pipe Insulation
Like heating ducts, hot water pipes can also be a major source of heat loss, particularly since these pipes often carry water in excess of 120 degrees. Pipe insulation traps heat and enables more of the boiler’s warmth to reach the radiators or baseboards. This helps save your dollars by increasing the efficiency of your heating system.
Walls make up the largest surface area in your home and, as a result, represent a significant potential source of heat loss. By insulating the exterior walls of your home, you’ll realize an increase in energy savings as well as improve the comfort level of your home. Insulation can be either blown-in to exterior walls or can be installed in open wall cavities. This added protection will also help your home stay cooler during the summer months and will buffer you from outside noise.