Is Your Home Properly Insulated? What Homeowners Should Know

Home insulation has undergone many improvements in the past few years, including the addition of more efficient materials and more effective installation procedures. No longer are homeowners restricted to only batt or blown in types of insulation, although these faithful choices are still very useful in some situations.

In addition, new products, such as spray foam insulation are now able to be easily applied in areas that were once difficult or impossible to properly insulate. But even with these new products, homeowners still need to learn more about insulation basics so they will be able to determine how well their homes are currently insulated and how much they might benefit from increasing the amount.

Understanding the R-Value

Home insulation products are assigned an R-value, based on their individual thermal resistance values. The R-value given to each product is based on its thickness, density and overall insulating effectiveness.

Location matters

Because the weather can be vary greatly in different areas of the country, home insulation experts have created a zone map that can help both homeowners and insulation contractors more easily match the location of the home to the R-value it will require. While this map provides basic information, homeowners may need more or less insulation than the zone map indicates, depending on their home’s exact location, climate, and the type and quality of building materials used to construct it. Newer homes that employ heat reflective roofing panels and pre-insulated siding may require far less insulation to achieve comfort than a smaller home built with less energy efficient materials.

Age and condition are important

Insulation is able to make a home feel more comfortable because it has the ability to trap air and create a barrier that helps to keep conditioned air inside the home. This same air-filled barrier also helps to keep hot or cold conditions outside the home from affecting the temperature inside. Over time, however, insulation can lose some or all of its loftiness, greatly impairing its ability to insulate the home – meaning if your home is new construction, it will likely outperform an older home with older but similar insulation.

In addition to age, insulation that has been wet, or compressed in some manner will no longer be effective and should be considered for replacement or upgrading, depending on the actual cause of its failure. Homes that have had rodent infestations may find that attic and wall insulation has been compressed, damaged, or become so soiled that it must be completely replaced.

Energy audits can help reveal insulation issues

An energy audit can be a helpful tool that homeowners can use to help them learn more about their existing insulation and any problem areas they may have. Some utility companies offer energy audits for free as a service to their customers, but homeowners can also use helpful DIY energy assessment guides to perform their own audit.

Energy audits also help homeowners spot problems such as inefficient heating and cooling equipment and construction issues, materials, or damage that may be making the home less efficient to heat or less comfortable to occupy. 

Getting a professional assessment

Home insulation contractors are another excellent source of information to help homeowners determine the quality and R-value of their current insulation. Reputable insulation contractors will be able to thoroughly examine and assess all existing insulation, including:

  • attic
  • walls
  • sub-floor and crawl space
  • insulation around vents and access points

During this assessment, they will take measurements and use scientific calculations based on the zone, type of insulation, construction quality, and other factors to determine the optimal amount of insulation required for each part of the home.

For even more information about your home’s insulation needs, contact a professional insulation contractor in your area. In most cases, much of the cost of upgrading or replacing your home’s insulation can be offset by lower heating and cooling bills in the years after the work is done.