Complete Guide to Home Insulation
An astounding 90 percent of homes in the United States are under-insulated, meaning you’re overspending on energy bills and undercutting your personal comfort.
Do you suspect yours is one of them? If so, we’re here to help with a complete guide to home insulation.
All your most pressing questions are answered below, from “What are the different types of insulation?” to “should I insulate an underground basement?”
Insulation plays a critical role in keeping your home comfortable. It keeps the house warm in cold temperatures and cool in hot temperatures.
By maintaining stable indoor temperatures, insulation saves you from cranking up the heat in the winter or blasting the air conditioner in the summer. As a result, you save money on energy bills and ensure your appliances last longer.
In addition to stabilizing indoor temperatures, insulation prevents indoor noise from escaping and outdoor noise from entering your home. It can keep pests like rodents and insects out, too.
Signs Your Home Is Under-Insulated
The majority of U.S. homes are under-insulated, but most homeowners have no idea. Here are some warning signs that indicate you need more or better insulation:
● Inconsistent temperatures throughout the home
● High energy bills
● Walls or ceilings are cold to the touch
● Frequently freezing pipes
● Drafts when windows and doors are closed
● Pest problems
● Increased noise permeation (noise escapes from your home, or you hear lots of outside noises)
If any of these issues sound familiar, upgrading your insulation could make a big difference.
How Do I Know What Type of Insulation to Use?
You may have decided that you need to address your home’s installation issues. However, you might now have questions like “What are the types of insulation?” and “How do I know what type of insulation to use?”
Types of Insulation
Insulation comes in various styles and materials. The following are some of the most well-known types:
● Batts or roll: Made of fiberglass, mineral wool, plastic, or natural fibers; Fitted between the house’s studs, joists, and beams
● Loose-fill and blown-in: Made of cellulose, fiberglass, or mineral wool; Blown into place using special equipment
● Sprayed foam and foamed-in-place: Made of phenolic, polyisocyanurate, cementitious, or polyurethane; Applied with small spray containers or a larger pressure sprayer
Of all these options, spray foam and batt insulation are the most frequently used.
How to Choose Insulation for Your Home
Consider the following factors when deciding which type of insulation to use for your home:
Climate and Location
Do you live in a cold or warm climate? How humid is your location?
Loose-fill, blown-in fiberglass insulation works well in cold climates. However, spray foam works better in warm locations (both dry and humid).
Are you willing to work with insulation that requires wall removal? If so, you might consider batt insulation.
Do you prefer an option that you can install without structural changes? If so, blown-in or spray foam insulation might be a better choice.
Are you looking for the most budget-friendly option? If so, batt insulation is one of the most cost-effective choices.
If you’re willing to invest a bit more money, you might consider spray foam or blown-in insulation.
DIY or Professional
Do you want to hire an expert, or are you willing to install insulation by yourself?
You can usually install batt insulation alone, making it more cost-effective.
Some people rent devices to install blown-in insulation themselves, but this process can still be tricky to do alone.
Spray-foam insulation is one of the most challenging DIY options and is better left to professionals.
How Do I Know How Thick the Insulation Needs to Be?
Insulation is rated based on its R-value. R-value varies based on the insulation’s thickness and density.
The higher the R-value, the thicker the insulation — and the better climate control and energy efficiency for your home. Higher R-values typically raise the price of the insulation, too.
In general, blow-in insulation has the lowest R-value, followed by batts, then spray foam. However, the insulation’s material also affects its R-value.
You don’t necessarily need the highest possible R-value to have a comfortable and energy-efficient home.
A lower R-value will likely be sufficient if you live in a hot-humid climate like Florida. However, if you live in an area with frigid winters, like Minnesota, you’ll need to spring for a higher R-value to stay warm and avoid massive heating bills.
The specific R-value you choose also depends on the location where you’re installing insulation. For example, your home’s floors and crawl spaces generally need a lower R-value than the attic.
Which Is Better, Spray Foam or Batt?
Are you stuck choosing between spray foam and batt insulation? Here are some pros and cons of each one to help you decide:
Spray Foam Pros
Spray foam is generally lauded as the best choice for homeowners looking to increase energy efficiency and reduce energy costs. This type of insulation can also improve your home’s air quality, keep allergens out, and has a long lifespan.
Spray Foam Cons
The upfront cost is one of the most significant downsides to spray foam insulation. It’s more expensive than batt insulation, and you can’t save money by doing it yourself.
The installation process for spray foam is longer than the process for batt insulation, too, and it can be pretty messy.
Batt insulation is relatively easy to install, and it costs a lot less than spray foam. This type of insulation is also moisture-resistant and made from recycled and renewable materials.
Batt insulation is more cost-effective (especially if you install it yourself), but it’s not as energy-efficient as spray foam. As a result, you might spend more long-term on energy bills (especially if you don’t install the insulation properly).
Types of Spray Foam Insulation
If you’re leaning toward spray foam insulation, the next question you’ll need to answer is, “Closed or open cell?” Below are the key differences between the two to help you decide which one to use:
Where and When Do You Use Closed-Cell Insulation?
Closed-cell foam insulation is made of uniform cells that maintain their shape. The closed cells have their own cell walls, meaning they’re rigid and trap a lot of air.
Closed-cell insulation is often used in the walls of remodeling and new construction projects because it traps air and does not readily absorb moisture.
Closed-cell insulation has a higher R-value than open-cell insulation, making it more energy efficient. However, it is usually more expensive.
Where and When Would You Use Open-Cell Insulation?
Open-cell foam insulation is made from irregularly shaped cells. The cell walls are broken, making the foam softer.
Open-cell foam has a lower R-value and costs less than closed-cell foam.
This insulation is a better choice for roofs because it won’t conceal leaks like closed-cell insulation. You can spot a leak right away with this insulation, meaning you can address it before it has a chance to escalate.
What Is Draft Stopping?
Draft stopping helps to further prevent air movement in open building areas. It’s often installed in attics, crawlspaces, and floors. In multi-unit housing projects, it’s also used to prevent fires from jumping across adjacent units.
Draft stopping can be done with many materials, including mineral wool or fiberglass batts, gypsum board, and particleboard.
Should You Insulate an Underground Basement?
In most cases, insulating an underground basement is a good idea.
Insulation helps you maintain consistent temperatures throughout your home and improve its energy efficiency (therefore reducing your energy bills). It also makes the basement more comfortable for you and your loved ones.
What Are Concrete Insulated Panels?
If you’ve been researching home insulation for a while, you may have come across some websites talking about concrete insulated panels (or CIPs).
Concrete insulated panels can be used in interior/exterior and load-bearing/non-load-bearing walls. These pre-insulated panels are poured offsite and then delivered to your property for a faster, smoother installation process.
Benefits of CIPs
If you’re building a home or doing an extensive remodel, you might choose concrete insulated panels for the following benefits:
● Increased energy efficiency
● Customizable sizes and shapes
● Various finishes available
● Durability and strength
● Expansion capabilities
● Rapid delivery
● Reduced maintenance costs
Many people also like the look of concrete insulated panels compared to other options. These panels could be a great choice if you’re concerned with aesthetics.
Level Up Your Home Insulation Today
Whether you’re a new homeowner or have been living in the same place for decades, you should understand the value of home insulation and how to choose the best type for your needs.
Keep the information discussed in this guide in mind so you can make informed decisions for yourself, your family, and your home.
Are you ready to improve your home insulation? If so, we can help at Superior Construction Services.
We are an award-winning building company with over 30 years of experience. Reach out today to learn more about our team, or start working with us on your upcoming home insulation or construction project.