Determining The Need For An Insulation Upgrade In The Home

Posted by Ecostar Insulation on March 23, 2017

Upgrading home insulation is always a good idea, and always a worthwhile investment. While a kitchen renovation might deliver more of a “wow” factor, home insulation is one of the most cost effective projects, and with great benefits. A well insulated home delivers indoor comfort during winter and summer. In addition, energy usage is decreased because the home is energy efficient. And finally, utility bills are reduced for winter heating and summer air conditioning. In fact, when high performance insulation is installed, property value is often increased at resale time.

With a professional approach to insulation, installers focus on areas of the home that are most susceptible to energy loss – in other words, weaknesses that can be addressed. Simply put, homes that are not energy efficient are wasting energy. On the other hand, an energy-efficient home is one that reduces energy consumption and actually delivers money savings. In a typical home, there are a variety of insulation upgrades and retrofits that can contribute to energy efficiency. And very often, the annual savings on utilities will “pay off” the original cost of upgrades.

Deciding On The Extent Of Insulation Removal

There are many reasons to remove old insulation, and rationale will differ from house to house. Here, a professional assessment of the space (attic or basement) is the preferred approach. In this way, it’s possible to determine whether there is need for removal, and to what extent. In some homes, old insulation is simply deteriorating – maybe because of some water leakage or perhaps some animal contamination. In homes that are much older, insulation materials might even be harmful. These are homes that still have materials like vermiculite or asbestos.

When it comes to insulation removal, this is work best managed by professionals. The cleanup has to be comprehensive, using equipment that will assure complete removal, while safeguarding the residents of the home. Once old insulation has been properly removed, it’s the professionals who can recommend the repairs and retrofits that will deliver the best return-on-investment. For most homes, airtightness will have to be improved, even before new insulation is installed. This is absolutely necessary to ensure optimum performance for the new insulation.

Insulating The Attic

As the topmost part of the house, the attic and roof cavity must ensure optimal energy efficiency. This means that the entire space has to be well sealed, insulated, and ventilated. Today, expert installers can offer a variety of product options for the attic, but many are suggesting spray foam as the ideal option. Spray foam is an installation that seals and insulates at one time. In the attic, the entire space is completely blanketed, with every little hole and crack getting effectively sealed and insulated. With a professional application, spray foam provides very high R-Value throughout the space, blocks air leakage in winter and summer, and prevents moisture from accumulating.

Insulating Exterior Walls

Many older built homes have little or no insulation in the exterior walls. These can be effectively reinsulated to build up R-Value and dramatically increase energy efficiency throughout the home. Well-insulated walls will stop indoor heat from escaping in winter, and cool air from escaping in the summer. For exterior walls, “injection insulation” is particularly cost effective. This retrofit (usually using spray foam) seals and insulates a wall cavity like no other product. And in older homes, it’s the ideal approach to enhancing energy efficiency for the building envelope. With a professional install, the HVAC system will perform better, and with better-balanced cycles.

Insulating The Basement

Most basements suffer from air leakage and moisture accumulation. Because the basement space is generally below ground, its imperative to control airflow and moisture in order to improve the energy efficiency. Whatever the insulation product chosen, basements have to be sealed airtight. In this way, air leakage is controlled, air moisture is diminished, and R-Values are improved. In short, a well-insulated basement provides better energy efficiency for the whole house. For some basements, installing a product like spray foam can deliver a good number of benefits in a single application – everything from air sealing, to moisture control, to high performance insulation.

Choosing The Right Insulation Product

Over the years, insulation products have improved dramatically in efficacy and performance. One of the more popular options for many homeowners has been blown insulation. It’s particularly good for the attic, where a proper installation will provide an effective “thermal blanket”, and good R-Values. The blown insulation product is available in cellulose or fiberglass, with a price point that offers very good value. Yet another option, also effective in the attic, is fiberglass batt insulation. Here again, an expert install allows for satisfactory R-Values and good product life.

In some scenarios, homeowners upgrading home insulation are opting for the higher performing insulation products. This is where spray foam insulation can meet the challenge. When expertly installed, spray foam does it all in a single application:  sealing a space totally airtight; providing a combination air/vapour barrier; and installing high R-Values throughout. These products will outperform and outlast anything comparable. Best of all, spray foam does not need to be topped up, replaced or replenished (other insulation products do require replenishment after time).

Quite often, when project budgets are limited in some way, professional installers recommend a combination application. This is a unique installation that combines two insulating products into one application. To start, a spray foam product is applied throughout a space, specifically to seal that space tight. This is followed with a blanket of blown insulation to complement the spray foam. The combination approach serves to improve energy efficiency and reduces energy usage right around the year. Indeed, the annual savings on utilities often offsets the project costs.

Probably the most important thing when upgrading home insulation is to contract a professional. Insulation is not for show - the products must be high quality, the installation must be top notch, and long-term performance must be guaranteed. Anything short will compromise performance the integrity of the project, and lead to luck lustre results.

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