Insulation: You Can't Weatherize Without It
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Why Insulate Your Home
Insulation keeps your home warm in the winter and cool in the summer; it's a year-round factor and that fact is often overlooked. According to the Department of Energy, heating and cooling account for 50% to 70% of the energy used in the average American home. Inadequate insulation and air leakage are the leading causes of energy waste in most homes.
- saves money and energy resources.
- increases home comfort by maintaining a uniform temperature throughout the house.
- makes walls, ceilings, and floors warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer.
The amount of energy that is conserved will depend on a number of factors: your local climate; the size, shape, and construction of your house; the living habits of your family; the type and efficiency of the heating and cooling systems; and the type of fuel used.
How Insulation Works
Heat flows naturally from a warmer to a cooler space. In winter, heat moves directly from all heated spaces to the outdoors and to adjacent unheated spaces such as attics, garages, and basements; basically to wherever there is a difference in temperature. During the summer, heat moves from the outdoors to the house interior. To maintain comfort in your house, the heat lost in winter must be replaced by your heating system and the heat gained in summer must be removed by your air conditioner.
That sounds simple. So simple, that the result of this natural air flow is often not given its due consideration. That's where insulation comes in. Insulating ceilings, walls, and floors, among other spaces, decreases the heating or cooling needed by providing an effective resistance to the flow of heat.
A variety of materials work to limit this air movement: batts, blankets, loose fill, and low-density foam, more familiarly known for example as fiberglass, cellulose, are some of the more popular. This still air acts as an effective insulator. Your insulation contractor is qualified to recommend the types of insulation materials for your customized needs but the following provides a few brief facts.
What Type of Insulation Works Best
This is a common question from homeowners; the answer is determined by:
- how much insulation is needed.
- the accessibility of the insulation location.
- the amount of space available for the insulation.
- local availability and price of the insulation material.
- additional unique factors for each insulation project.
Insulation is rated in terms of thermal resistance, called R-value, which indicates the resistance to heat flow. The higher the R-value, the greater the insulation effectiveness. The R-value of thermal insulation is determined by the type of material, its thickness, and its density.
Insulation matters. In your weatherization program. In summer, in winter. In your pocket.
Insulation is a major part of any home weatherization program. The details of why, how and what are best left to professional insulation contractors who are trained to assess the correct insulation requirements for your home and to implement those changes for maximum energy savings and benefit for the long term. A brief introduction about insulation is a good way for homeowners to start the process.
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