Insulating your home can save you hundreds of dollars a year in heating and cooling costs, as well as provide a more comfortable environment. Installing insulation is quite simple and need not be costly if you do it yourself.
Insulation comes in several different R-values. The R-value indicates the insulation’s ability to retain heat in the building. Insulation with a high R-value will save more energy than insulation with a low R-value.
Be sure to wear a particle mask when installing insulation to avoid inhaling tiny fragments of insulation. If you wear contacts, you will want to wear goggles or switch to glasses during the installation.
Insulation can be installed in several areas in a house. The attic is the area in which insulation will save you the most money. An un-insulated attic area will rapidly lose heat or cooling. Attic insulation is either fiberglass batting or loose-fill insulation made of cellulose or fiberglass.
Loose-fill insulation is usually less expensive than batting and covers the area to be insulated more effectively. This insulation is typically blown into the area to be insulated, while batting is laid down between the attic joists by hand. The special blower needed to install loose-fill insulation can usually be rented at the building supply store where you buy the insulation.
It has a hopper where the insulation is loaded and a long hose through which the insulation is blown. Get the salesperson at the store to give you a demonstration of how your model works, as they are all a little different in operation.
Before beginning the installation, make sure that all leaks are sealed, as unnecessary airflow will rob you of some of your energy savings. Install flashing around chimneys and recessed lights in the attic to preserve a space of at least three inches between the heat producing item and the insulation. Weatherstrip the trapdoor to the attic and attach insulation to it. If you are using loose-fill insulation, make sure that a baffle is above each soffit vent so that the attic is still properly ventilated after the insulation is in place.
Blow loose-fill insulation into the attic at the rate the insulation manufacturer specifies to achieve the correct R-value per square foot. Make sure to apply the insulation evenly, not leaving any bare spots. Be especially careful to get enough insulation at the eaves of the attic, as it is easy to apply too little where the attic roof comes down to meet the floor. Loose-fill insulation might settle over time. Check for settling each year and add more insulation if needed.
Fiberglass batting comes in rolls. Install fiberglass batting by unrolling it and laying it paper side down between the attic joists. Staple the batting into place so that it does not shift and leave a bare spot. Cut out insulation around electrical sockets and lights. Fill any gaps with small pieces of insulation cut from the roll.
Insulating the walls in your house is also very important. If you are just building your house, you can install fiberglass batting between the wall joists before the drywall is installed. The principles of installation are the same as in the attic; unroll the insulation and staple it into place, making cutouts around windows and wall sockets.
Loose-fill insulation can be used to insulate existing walls. You must drill holes in the exterior wall that are about two inches in diameter. Two holes should be drilled between each stud. One hole should be at 16 inches from the top of the wall and the other at 24 inches from the bottom of the wall. Blow the insulation into each hole until the section between each stud is full, and then plug the holes.
Insulating a basement or crawlspace and adding a vapor barrier can make the whole house more comfortable. It will keep the area under the house at a more even temperature and cuts down on moisture. Rigid foam insulation is the best insulation to use for basements and crawlspaces. This type of insulation comes in nine or ten-foot sheets that are one-half inch thick.
The sheets are made of polystyrene or urethane. To insulate your basement, first, attach furring strips to the walls with masonry anchors. The furring strips should be spaced at the width of the foam sheet. Cut the sheets with an insulation board saw so that they fit between the wall’s sill plate and the cap plate.
If you are insulating a crawl space, make sure the sheet is cut to fit between the ground and the floor joists without letting the insulation touch the ground. Make cutouts as necessary for windows, vents, and electrical outlets. The sheets will be attached to the concrete block walls with panel adhesive. Make sure that the panel adhesive you choose will not dissolve the insulation.
Spread the adhesive on each sheet and attach the sheet to the basement wall. After all the insulation is in place, staple plastic sheeting to the furring strips to form a vapor barrier. If you are installing the insulation in a basement, attach wallboard over the vapor barrier for a more finished look.
Whether you decide to insulate your attic, walls, or basement, the energy savings and increased comfort of your home will repay your efforts for years to come.