How to Effectively Insulate Your House and Why You Should Do It
Insulating your home will keep you more comfortable when relaxing in your house. Good insulation will also save you money and pay for itself over time. In summer your home lets heat in from outside and your AC works to cool it. In winter your home leaks heat to the outside and you need to warm it. Let’s have a look at why this is and how to fix it.
Identifying Problem Areas
The best way to go about insulating your home is to spend your time and budget on problem areas. Think about a bucket with some holes in it. It is losing water and you need to keep the water in. Where do you start? The biggest holes need fixing first before moving on to the small ones. Often solving small heat leaks can be just as expensive as solving big ones. Spending time and money on the big ones first is the way to go.
You can often identify big issues yourself. Start with a visual inspection. Look at doors and windows. Check for any gaps. Install a seal below a door and check window seals for gaps. Think about any holes or gaps that can lead to airflow, moreover, All Seasons Insulation lists the various areas in a home and also has a handy diagram of where to check. If you live in an old house you might want to change windows for better thermodynamically insulated modern windows.
A simple test if you suspect an air leak is to run your HVAC to create some airflow in your home and then use a lit incense stick close to the area you suspect. For example, if a door is not sealing properly you should see incense smoke flowing to the gap.
You can also get a professional to do a door blower test. The unit has an expandable frame that fits in a door jam. It has a large fan that can blow or suck air into or out of your home. The pressure difference can then be measured and it gives a good indication of how efficient your home is sealed. If the pressure equalizes faster then there are more air leaks. This can be done on a per room basis as well if needed.
You can combine a door blower test with a theatrical smoke machine that produces harmless visible smoke. The smoke will give an easy-to-spot visual indication of where the air is escaping your home.
The last way to find problem areas is to use a FLIR camera. A FLIR camera is a thermal or infrared camera. You can get an expert who knows the camera or rent a camera to do the inspection. On the thermal images of the outside of your home, you will be able to check for hot and cold areas. In winter you need to look at hot areas on the image. This is where heat is escaping your home. In summer you need to look for cold areas where cold air is escaping.
After identifying the problem areas you can tackle these in various ways. Adjust windows and doors to seal better. Replace or fit seals where needed.
Walls, attics, and basements might need new insulation to be fitted. In older homes, the insulation might be less efficient, and replacing this will help. Also, some types of loose insulation can compact, settle, or become less efficient over time. Replacing these will be good.
When installing new insulation you need the R-value to calculate the energy saving you will get. The R-value is a measure of how well the insulation will work. The second factor is how thick it is applied. Using this you can check what type and how thick the insulation should be. Also, make sure there are no joints or gaps when installed where heat can escape. The R-value only holds when there are no gaps or joints.
When installing fiberglass insulation just cut it to size with a utility knife and fill the cavity. Cover the inside face with plastic or membrane to stop condensation. Apply sealant at the top and seams. Finally, tack the sheet into place. For spray insulation, the cavities are filled with the spray in two-part foam.
Fixing insulation around plumbing stacks, floor joints and fixtures is the next task to tackle. Make sure there are no more air leaks after fixing these areas. Spray foam insulation can be a great solution to these problem areas.
Ensuring that your home is insulated properly and that the insulation is maintained will save heating and cooling costs throughout the year. Any upgrade in the thermal sealing of your home should pay for itself in saving on your utilities. Especially if you have an older home it is a great way of saving money in the long run.