Did you know that heating and cooling account for 50 to 70% of the energy used in the average American household? Did you know that the leading causes of energy waste in residential homes are inadequate insulation and air leakage? Properly insulating your home not only reduces heating and cooling costs, but also improves comfort.
To maintain comfort, the heat lost in the fall and winter months must be replaced by your heating system, whereas the heat gained in the spring and summer months must be removed by your cooling system. Keeping this in mind, a properly insulated home will decrease this heat flow by providing an effective resistance to the flow of heat.
For optimal energy efficiency, your home should be properly insulated from the roof down to its foundation in order to prevent air leakage. This chart shows where the most common air leaks occur in the home.
Types of Insulation
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Spray Foam Insulation: A two-component mixture composed of isocyanate and polyol resin comes together at the tip of a gun, and forms an expanding foam that is sprayed onto roof tiles, concrete slabs, into wall cavities, or through holes drilled in into a cavity of a finished wall.
Spray foam insulation can be categorized into two different types: open cell and closed cell.
*** Open Cell Foam Insulation: Open cell is a type of foam where the tiny cells are not completely closed. Open cell is less expensive because it uses fewer chemicals. It is a very good air barrier but does not provide any type of water vapor barrier. It is much more sponge-like in appearance. It is often used for interior walls because it provides sound reduction. It is not recommended for outdoor applications. Open Cell Foam can achieve greater R-value if not restricted by space and will accommodate long-term creep and seasonal movement.
*** Closed Cell Foam Insulation: Closed cell foam insulation is much denser than open cell. It has a smaller, more compact cell structure. It is a very good air barrier as well as a water vapor barrier. It is often used in roofing projects or other outdoor applications, but can be used anywhere in the home. Closed Cell Foam can be applied at very low temperatures (as low as 5 degrees Farenheight) and has a Higher R-value per inch.
Cellulose insulation is a low-thermal-conductivity material used to reduce building heat loss and gain, and reduce noise transmission. Cellulose insulation is plant fiber used in wall and roof cavities to insulate, draught proof and reduce noise.
Cellulose has been around for over 50 years and is the greenest insulation product in the industry. Cellulose has the highest level of post-consumer recycled content in the industry – up to 85% recycled newspaper. Paper is the largest component of landfills and producing Cellulose insulation diverts waste from the landfills thus saving valuable space. Fiberglass has a maximum of 40% recycled content and foam products have 0%. Cellulose insulation also prevents the release of greenhouse gases (methane) as newspapers decompose in landfills.
Batt and Roll Insulation:
The most common form of home insulation is “Batt and Roll” or “Blanket” insulation. It is typically stored in rolls, is generally made of fiberglass and is the least expensive way to insulate a home. Batt and roll insulation is manufactured in various sizes for easy transport, and to make the installation easy for everybody from contractors to do-it-yourselfers.
Like all insulation, batt and roll is rated on an R-Value scale, which measures the thermal resistance – the effectiveness to prevent heat transfer – of the material. The R-Value increases with the density and thickness of the insulation. A higher R-Value means better insulating properties – and a higher the cost.