Energy losses through a building's surfaces can significantly increase annual heating and cooling costs. Research shows that ceilings lose 25–35% of heat during winter and gain the same amount of heat in summer. Windows account for 20% of heat loss and gain, while walls and floors account for 25% and 20% of heat loss and gain, respectively. Insulation creates a barrier that restricts heat flow, reduces energy losses and increases year-round indoor comfort. If you are planning a home insulation project, here are three steps to increase insulation efficiency.
1. Conduct an energy audit
Before starting a home insulation project, it's crucial to conduct an energy audit. This audit unearths the following issues:
- Sources of air leaks in the home
- Areas that require insulation
- Amount of insulation needed
- Heat loss through old or worn insulation
Insulating your home before conducting an energy audit can lead to wastage of money. You may end up with inadequate insulation or with insulation in the wrong spaces. For example, if the audit reveals that most of your home's heat is lost through the ceiling and walls, your focus should be on those areas.
2. Determine areas that need insulation
Whole-house insulation can be a costly project. You can determine the areas that would benefit from insulation the most. When making this choice, consider new vs. existing construction and your home insulation budget.
A new build is easy to insulate because you don't have to tear down walls and floors. However, if you have an existing building, you may face some limitations. You can insulate the walls by drilling holes and blowing insulation into the cavities. However, this exercise may not be possible on all the walls.
Decide whether you are ready to retrofit your home by adding insulation. If your budget doesn't allow for a retrofit, insulate easily accessible areas such as the roof, attic and windows. You will still generate significant energy savings from the project.
3. Choose your preferred insulation materials
The most common insulation materials are fibreglass, foam, cellulose and mineral wool. When choosing a material, consider its R-value per inch or thermal resistance. This value rates a material based on its resistance to heat transfer. The higher the R-value of an insulating material, the higher the product's resistance to heat transfer. Therefore, it can create an effective barrier against heat loss and gain.
Insulation products with a lower R-value may still create a sufficient barrier when used correctly. For example, spray foam has a higher R-value than fibreglass. However, if you layer fibreglass batts or rolls and increase their thickness, you can increase the material's thermal resistance.
These steps will help you prevent heat flow through the walls, floors, windows, and ceiling. Contact a professional contractor for residential insulation services.