The act of insulating a building involves keeping heat inside by covering any surfaces that are exposed to the outside, such as the walls, floors, and roofs. Making the most of your home’s insulation improves comfort levels throughout the year. It will make rooms warmer and eliminate chilly drafts. But the advantages of efficient home insulation go further than that. Correctly insulating your home will save your yearly heating costs and contribute to energy conservation. Home insulation that is effective will keep your house cozy in the winter and will help you significantly save on your energy costs.
So Why Do You Really Need Insulation?
It’s no secret that everything in this world requires protection and additional reinforcement in order to last longer and serve better. Your home is no different. Good quality insulation is what makes a house, a mere building with proverbial four walls, a roof and a door into a home you love spending your life in because it makes the place, first and foremost, habitable. An uninsulated dwelling loses heat through many orifices and its essential parts by simply providing insufficient layering to protect its inside from the outside forces of nature.
To out this into numbers to make this point stick, it’s estimated that the overwhelming majority of heat, at times up to 60 percent of all of it, leaves buildings through the roof and walls of it. The good news is that these are places that are quite simple to insulate. Therefore, it is easy to understand how insulating your walls and roof, which is also fairly affordable and simple to perform, can drastically save your heating bills.
However, such parts of any house like floors, windows and other sources of draughts like skirting, vents, and other primary joinery are also contributors to the problem of heat loss in a building, albeit they are not as significant as uninsulated walls and roofs. Thankfully, there are options that are available to insulate these parts of your house as well and we’ll touch upon this subject in this article.
Types of Insulation: How Many Are There and What Do They Do?
There are numerous types of residential insulation available for homeowners looking to take care of their homes and make them warmer and more protected than ever before. Where you wish to install or add to it should guide your decision.
Are you curious about the best insulation for your house? Then you should look into one of the most vital characteristics of any insulation – The R-value, or a value of thermal resistance. This type of value of various types of house insulation varies greatly. The thermal resistance of a substance is measured by its R-value, and the higher the value, the better the material insulates. The thickness of insulation is also important, and you may use a variety of materials to produce effective insulation for a specific region of your home as long as you utilize the necessary thickness. In other words, unless there is a space restriction, you might wish to utilize insulation that is more expensive but provides deeper insulation coverage.
We’ve outlined the sorts of insulation you might want to employ in various locations:
This is one of the most common and thought-of types that comes to mind when people mention house-wide insulation. It is offered for purchase in batts or rolls, as well as panels with bat insulation already cut out. Continuous rolls of insulation can be cut and trimmed to fit the space you need to fill. Roll insulation is available with and without facing. Materials like glass wool, fiberglass, rock wool, also known as mineral wool, and sheep’s wool can be used to create it. Normally, blanket insulation is put in unobstructed areas such as unfinished walls, floors, and ceilings. It is frequently utilized in new building projects and installed between joists, studs, and beams.
Pros: it’s cost-effective, easy to install even as a part of a DIY project, moderately effective for the purposes of noise reduction, and environmentally friendly.
Cons: not very durable and tends to lose its R-value fairly easily, doesn’t have a high thermal resistance compared to other insulation options, requires wide open surfaces for its installation and thus can be tricky to install in an already built house.
They are more expensive than rolls or blanket insulation, but at half the thickness, they provide good thermal values. Additionally, you can put things right on top of them with ease. They can be sawed to size to fit snugly between joists or rafters, and holes can be drilled all the way around light fixtures. Like most things these days, they come from many materials, such as polyisocyanurate (PIR), polyurethane (PUR), expanded polystyrene (EPS) and supple glass wool. The final choice between what sort of boards suits your needs depends on the situation in question, and for that reason this variety is a strong reason to consider this type of insulation for your home improvement plan.
Pros: increased R-value compared to any other type of insulation, helps avoid thermal bridging, provides better moisture control and air leaks, and is highly durable.
Cons: the most expensive out of any other insulation option, requires experienced maintenance worker to install, sensitive to UV-light thus needs to be installed in a manner that prevents direct sunlight exposure.
Spray Foam Insulation
A composite material called spray foam insulation is created when two chemicals (usually isocyanate and polyol resin) come into contact. These chemicals are brought together at the tip of a spray gun from two different hoppers or tanks that are moved by liquid or gas pressure. When they come together, they react to one another and produce a foamy mixture. The foam then dries in place, forming a strong vapor and air barrier.
Spray foam insulation fundamentally comes in two different varieties – Open Cell Spray Foam and Closed Cell Spray Foam insulation. Both substances combine two molecules, expand in place, and insulate differently. It’s a very solid and cost-effective option of insulation that can be used locally to get rid of draught heat loss through window cracks and doorway spaces.
Pros: can be used to seal gaps that would otherwise lead to draught heat loss, highly water-resistant, eco-friendly.
Cons: requires skill and experience to handle properly to achieve the best long-term result, can result in major odor lingering after it’s used and requires adequate ventilation of the space it’s utilized in, can be costly if it’s used throughout the entire house.
The practice of covering attic floors with any loose material that has a high R-value for insulation is known as blow-in insulation (also known as loose-fill insulation). Although many different materials can be utilized, such as styrofoam pellets or loose fiberglass fibers, cellulose material is the most often used material for blow-in applications.
There are additional insulation items available for particular portions of your home, such as draught-proofing strips for windows and doors, radiator reflector panels, and jackets for hot water cylinders. This method is best used when it comes to adding insulation to pre-existing buildings, both for attic spaces and wall cavities.
Pros: allows for material layering, highly moldable and so can fill spaces with awkward and unusual forms, fairly flame resistant, eco-friendly and non-toxic.
Cons: requires professional installation, messy process that requires copious amount of work to clean up the space it’s used in afterwards, can potentially promote fungal growth if not treated for it, can cause ceiling sag and thus is not advised for roof insulation, becomes troublesome when wet.
Now that we’ve covered the basics when it comes to types of insulation and their main strengths and weaknesses, we’ll look at the best ways of applying this theoretical knowledge to practice when it comes to insulating various parts of your house.
A quarter of all heat throughout any house is lost through its roof, and so, when you take this information into account, it becomes very apparent that it’s highly important to approach the topic of roof and loft or attic insulation very seriously. If properly installed and planned out, loft insulation should pay for itself many times over the course of its estimated 40+ year lifespan.
It should be simple and relatively straightforward to insulate your loft if it is accessible and does not have any issues with condensation or dampness. In many circumstances, you can even do it yourself. Rolls of mineral wool insulation can be used if access is simple and your loft joists are uniform. The horizontal beams that make up the loft floor are known as joists. After placing the first layer between the joists, the insulation is then raised to the necessary depth by adding a second layer at a right angle to cover the joists in question.
What you may do afterwards depends on how you plan to use your loft space. You should put boards over the joists if you intend to store things in the loft or attic and generally do not plan to make it into a living space. Unfortunately, the insulation will not be thick enough if you merely insulate it between the joists and so boards will need to be supplemented by blown-in or blanket insulation at some point in the process.
This process becomes even trickier if you plan to or already use your attic as a living space. In this case, you need to make sure that all the walls and ceilings between a heated room and an unheated space are insulated. Make certain to utilize high performance glazing for any windows or skylights, and to insulate every section of wall and ceiling surrounding any dormer windows. In general, a warm loft is not something an amateur can handle without being overwhelmed and losing track of something that will quickly become a major issue down the line. To guarantee that the insulation is proper and complete and that the necessary ventilation is delivered, you will need a professional installation.
Knowing how to properly insulate a wall can be essential to maintaining a warm and energy-efficient house. As we have covered before, walls are a major contributor to heat loss rates of any house when left uninsulated, and so you should make doubly sure you do your due diligence on this front.
If you are remodeling, you can utilize foam or blanket insulation instead of blowing insulation into the walls, something that is preferred and widely practiced when the walls are built from scratch. Regardless of the approach that works best for your home, whether it is combined with attic insulation installation or not, it’s a terrific way to lower heating and cooling expenses.
Exterior Wall Insulation
When ought one think about insulating outside walls? If your home seems drafty and chilly in the winter or too warm in the summer despite having adequate insulation and effective air sealing in the attic, you probably need to insulate the external walls for that additional layering.
Some houses are being constructed without any insulation in the wall cavity or with minimal insulation. In this situation, cavity wall insulation can increase the comfort of your home while also bringing about savings. If you want to reduce your utility costs, the best solution is to blow insulation into the wall cavity. For cavity wall insulation, loose fill cellulose or fiberglass can be utilized, and a qualified contractor is required.
If you are replacing the siding on your home, another alternative is to place a layer of foam sheathing on top of the existing sheathing before installing the new siding. There are many foam thicknesses available, and thicker foam generally saves more energy.
Internal Wall Insulation
Internal wall insulation offers several benefits. Making the decision to insulate your internal walls can considerably lessen noise transfer between rooms, which is fantastic for privacy and cozy calm, especially if you have children. Making heating and cooling more efficient, affordable, and simple to manage is another advantage. In a home with inside insulation, you can more effectively heat or cool a single room or an entire section of your house.
The type of renovation projects you are undertaking will determine how you should go about insulating the interior solid or cavity walls. Spray foam or wet spray cellulose insulation can be employed if the wall cavities are open. Spray foam insulation injection is another option if the cavities will not be open. If you are interested in a more cost-friendly option that can be DIY-ed, batt and roll insulation is simple to install and less expensive than other options for insulating a wall. Although it will not provide the optimal air seal, it might still be valuable and will absolutely be better than leaving your wall unprotected and not reinforced.
The ground floor of many newer homes will be composed of solid concrete that can be safely insulated. However, as it will elevate the floor level and require adjustments to the flooring, skirting boards, and door levels, it can be an expensive process. If major renovations are already in the works, employing a damp-proof membrane and a firm foam insulating layer put on the concrete floor may be worthwhile in pursuit of your goal of insulating your floors in the best manner possible.
Floor insulation may be cost-effective for older homes because they are more likely to have cold and drafty suspended timber ground floors. If your house contains multiple floors, it is reasonable to consider that upstairs rooms are situated above heated living spaces, and so it might not be essential to insulate their flooring. However, since a lot of heat is presumably being lost, you should think about insulating any floors that are above unheated areas, such as garages or lofts. To ensure the joists are still ventilated, suspended timber floors can be insulated by installing rigid insulation board between the joists and supporting it with nails or timber battens, or by installing mineral wool batts supported by plastic meshing.
To get the maximum performance out of their flooring and its insulation, homeowners should replace their underlay whenever they lay down a new floor covering. A home with underlay is often more comfortable and healthful since it increases the lifespan of a carpet or laminate floor by up to 50%, lowers noise levels, and improves air quality. Therefore, as you can see, insulation can positively affect other aspects of your home.
The importance of insulating your home properly cannot be overstated. The most effective strategy to maintain a constant, even temperature inside your home while also keeping your energy costs under control is to correctly install the right kind of insulation. A seasoned professional is required to plan how this process should be approached due to the intricacies of understanding what would work best for your needs, so before you roll out your blanket insulation and go to town, you should seek expert opinion on the matter.