Insulating Your Summer Cottage for Winter

Posted by Ecostar Insulation on January 09, 2018

The best parts of your cottage - the lake, the woods, the quiet - can be enjoyed all year long by insulating your cottage for winter.  There’s no reason to pass on the enjoyment of your rural retreat just because the temperature drops below zero. Adding insulation can help turn your cabin into a year-round escape.

Insulating Your Summer Cottage

Summer cottages usually have little insulation - and if they’re only used in the summer months, they generally don’t need it. The reasons for insulating, such as keeping moisture from forming between walls, is usually not a problem when the temperature differential between the indoors and out is only a few degrees, and air movement from open doors and windows is frequent.

When you are insulating your cottage for winter, there are a few things to take into consideration. One is that you’ll need to add a vapour barrier; in January, your warm and snug cottage and the wintery outdoors may differ by more than 30 degrees. That difference can cause warm air to condense on the inside of the walls. Moisture in the walls or in the attic can cause mold to form, which can cause a lot of trouble.

When choosing an insulation product for the cottage, many contractors will suggest placing blown-in or fiberglass batt insulation directly into the walls or attic. While this will certainly keep you warmer indoors, it’s also likely to cause moisture and mold without the added installation of a vapor barrier. A vapor barrier is an expensive extra step, which is impossible to install without removing existing walls.

A Better Option for your Cottage.

At EcoStar Insulation, our top choice for insulating your cottage for winter is spray foam insulation. Spray foam is ideal because it’s insulation and a vapor barrier in one - with a high R-value, it keeps heat in while keeping moisture out. Spray foam is applied as a liquid that expands into walls or between joists, and it can be installed without needing to tear down walls. Spray foam insulation can have one of the greatest cumulative effects on your cottage energy bills when compared to other upgrades because it does an excellent job of sealing the small cracks and air leaks that allow your warmed air to escape.

When insulating your cottage for winter, the best places to ensure you have good air sealing are:

  • Under the rafters
  • Inside the crawl space
  • Inside closed or empty wall cavities
  • Around windows, doors, and vents
  • Around wires and plumbing pipes
  • Inside the gaps between wall studs

Adding Attic Insulation

When installed correctly, one of the best places to insulate is your attic. Attic insulation reduces your heating costs during the winter and helps regulate your indoor temperature is the attic. Regardless of the time of year, new attic insulation will help create a more stable indoor atmosphere that keeps moisture and temperature balanced. When insulating your cottage for winter, addressing the attic is a must, because it will help protect you from the elements while improving your energy usage. The ability that spray foam has to both insulate and seal air leaks is where it truly shines. It will help keep your cottage comfortable all year round, preventing air conditioning loss in the summer, and keeping warmth in during the winter

Removing Old Insulation and Upgrading your Cabin

Before you can begin insulating your cottage for winter, prior insulation needs to be removed. As older types of insulation age, they begin to underperform or deteriorate, and could be compromising the air flow or circulation in your cottage. Choosing to work with professionals on your cottage will have a positive effect on your comfort and enjoyment - not only can the teams at EcoStar ensure you have a clean and safe removal, but they will also help assess your cottage for air leaks or damage that may need repair.

While we talk a lot at EcoStar about spray foam insulation, there are two other types we install and recommend for insulating your cottage for winter as well.

Blown in Insulation: This type of insulation is easy to install and is a cost-effective approach to insulate attics, roof cavities, and exterior walls. Blown in fabrications usually come in one of two materials: fibreglass and cellulose. Both have a similar R-Value, and can be installed over viable older insulation to boost its effectiveness. Blown in insulations don’t attract pests and are fire resistant, which makes them ideal products. Like anything, they do need to be properly installed to ensure they will work to their maximum efficacy - but installation is generally quick.

Fiberglass Batt Insulation: This popular product is a good option for both attics and walls. Depending of the project at hand, fiberglass batt insulation can be used in the attic or in walls. This insulation product is non-combustible and helps to absorb both moisture and sound. When insulating your cottage for winter this product is again best installed by a professional, as an inexperienced install may result in poor performance and increased air leakage. 

The Benefits of an All-Seasons Cottage.

Adding modern insulation to your cottage will enable you and your family to enjoy your lake-side retreat all year round, and help you lower your cottage’s energy bills, reduce air leakage, and stabilize temperatures indoors. Different options for insulation, as well as a professional installation and air sealing will give you the confidence that you’ll be comfortable no matter the season. The age of many cottages and their often home crafted building strategies mean that they often suffer from inadequate air sealing and a lack of insulation.

Professional contractors today highly recommend spray foam insulation as one of the best methods for insulating your cottage for winter. It’s the ultimate installation as it acts as a moisture barrier and insulator in one application, sealing the space, blocking moisture (and preventing its accumulation), and providing exceptional R-Values. Insulating your cottage for winter has year-round rewards; get in touch with us at EcoStar Insulation to learn more about spray foam insulation and how it can help improve your cottage. 

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