Insulation 101: What Every Home Owner Should Know

A great insulation job on one of our job sites.

A great insulation job on one of our job sites.

With the arrival of winter, you may be more concerned with your Christmas list than your R-Value but you shouldn’t be.  If your home is inadequately or improperly insulated, you could literally be throwing away hundreds of dollars that could be much better spent Christmas shopping- or maybe on a vacation down South!!  This month’s column covers what you need to know about insulation. Whether your home is old or new, every homeowner should have a basic understanding of what is inside their walls.

1.     Batt Insulation:  A very common insulation, batt insulation is usually placed in the walls of the home and has a cotton-like appearance.  The insulation is positioned in the cavity between the studs of the walls.  Because batt insulation traps air in the fiberglass to add R-Value, it is imperative not to crush or squeeze the insulation into the cavity or you will lose insulation value.  We highly recommend an experienced installer to ensure that you are maximizing the efficiency of your home. The downside to batt insulation is that you usually have exposed studs remaining which creates cold spots that allow heat/cold to transfer easily.

2.     Blown-In Insulation: Blown-In insulation is available in a variety of materials however, cellulose (fire-retardant paper fiber) is our favorite product due to its ability to fill different sizes & shapes of cavities.  It is essential that your blown-in insulation is applied at the same depth across your space to maximize your R-Value.  Any low spots will create weak points for your insulation.  Also, it is essential that you do not cover your ventilation system to avoid future potential roof problems.  While blown-in insulation can be used inside wall cavities, it can be prone to settlement and compaction.  We recommend batt insulation in the wall cavities over blown-in.

3.     Rigid Foam: Rigid foam is available in solid sheets and is a strong material that does not get crushed thereby diminishing your R-Value.  We are big fans of applying Rigid foam on the exterior of our new homes, under the siding, to minimize thermal bridging- the heat loss through wood studs.   And a bonus feature of Rigid foam is that it does not mould.  Other applications of Rigid foam include under a floor slab during construction or inside basement walls.  When we use Rigid foam in conjunction with Batt insulation, we are able to obtain an R-Value that is superior to ICF (Insulated Concrete Form) construction.

If you’re looking for a new home and want to learn more about the options available for insulation & energy efficiency, please give us a call!  If you’re looking to increase the R-Value of your existing home, we highly recommend that you connect with one of the many qualified insulators around town to ensure you get the best bang for your insulation buck.

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