Insulating a home whether in the walls or the attic helps homeowners to upgrade their home and to get energy savings upwards of $300 annually. There are several different types of insulations to choose from for your particular needs.
Batts and Blankets Insulation
Fiberglass Batts and Blankets is the most common insulation type used. This type comes in convenient rolls that are easy to carry and transport. This type is suitable for do-it-yourselfers; however it’s important to cut material so that it fits snugly around wires, electrical outlets and plumbing pipes. If this insulation is installed clumsily, it will lose effectiveness sometimes as much as 50% effectiveness. It is widely available and comes in standard thicknesses and widths, which are designed to fit around rafters, studs and joists. There are both paper and foil-faced versions that have stapling flanges that make installing it easy. Some disadvantages to this type is that it can be itchy it install, so you will need protective clothing. Also rolls of fiberglass must be cut by hand in order to fit spaces, which can take a lot of time. Average cost of this insulation type is 30 cents per square foot.
Rockwool Batts and Blankets insulation is more fire resistant than its fiberglass relation. It doesn’t itch like it either. This type springs into space against any present studs, which makes installation quick and free of staples. It isn’t as easy to find and retains moisture, which means it promotes mold growth. This type of insulation is about 60 cents per square foot, double that of fiberglass.
Another type of Batts and Blankets insulation is Cotton Batts. This type is the most expensive of all 3 at about 90 cents per square foot. It doesn’t itch unlike the fiberglass type and comes in easy-to-use rolls. It also is simple to cut for fitting around pipes unlike fiberglass batts and blankets. However, it is not as widely available as that type. This type is best for walls.
Loose-fill insulation is great in attics and walls and is made of fluffy strands that are blown into place with a special machine. It also fills in well and helps to eliminate cold spots in a wall or attic. It is lightweight enough to be used in attics over ½ inch drywall ceilings with framing. Because the product is so fluffy, it can lose up to half of its effectiveness at cold temperatures unless it is topped with a higher-density loose fill or blanket insulation. It is best for use in ceilings. Its average cost is approximately 30 cents per cubic foot.
Loose-fill cellulose is great for use in all temperatures and performs well as the air gets cold. It is too heavy for attic installations, but great for ceilings that have at least 5/8 inch drywall or with framing every 16 inches. It can settle almost 20% of its size which will reduce effectiveness, but not by much. Average cost is about 31 cents per cubic foot.
Structural Insulated Panels (SIPs)
This type of insulation comes in 4-by-8-ft sheets, although they can be customized for new construction projects. These boards can insulate entire wall surfaces including the framing. Some of these sheets even have tongue-and-groove edges in order to make energy-efficient seams.
Polystyrene SIPs come in expanded or extruded. They both are easy to install and lightweight. The disadvantage is that they must be cut in order to fit around pipes, which can leave gaps that will need to be filled with sealing foam. This makes treating these panels with insecticide important as pests and insects can easily tunnel through them.
Polyisocyanurate SIPs is a type of insulation that provides a moisture barrier. It can be quite expensive and typically is only used in roofs, floors, ceilings or new walls. These panels do emit toxic smoke when burned. They are 3.5 times the cost of their counterparts.
Spray foam insulation costs more than batt insulation and forms an air barrier. This barrier eliminates the needs for caulking and other weatherizing tasks. This plastic insulation goes on as a liquid and expands in order to fill the space and sealing cracks, gaps and stops air leaks.
Open-Cell Polyurethane Spray Foam stops movement of air. Its disadvantage is that it allows water vapor to pass through so that the moisture barrier is still needed. This may require professional installation. This costs around $1-$1.20 per square foot.
Closed-Cell Polyurethane Spray Foam is relatively expensive at $1.75-$3 per square foot. It requires professional installation. It stops movement of moisture as well as air. It uses more materials then open-cell foam and there are multiple exposure issues making it important for a professional to perform this installation method.
How Much Insulation Do I Need?
The simplest answer is as much as you can fit in a space. The real answer depends where you live and around the cost of energy. Insulation essential is a giant blanket around homes in order to lower heating and cooling costs. The insulation in an attic should be at least a foot thick. Ultimately, the thicker, the better. Upgrading attic insulation is one of the most cost-effective DIY projects a homeowner can do for their home. Adding additional insulation will save you money by keeping your air you pay for in your home and not blowing out the top of your roof.
For walls, you will need the space inside of your walls to be completely filled with insulation. Insulation should extend from the floor to ceiling without any avoids. The insulation should wrap around electrical boxes, ductwork, plumbing and wires. Unfortunately, walls have limited amount of space between studs to install insulation. IN order to beef up the space, the United States Department of Energy recommends that builders install foam insulation on the outside of home underneath their siding. Adding this foam board insulation to the walls of existing homes can only occur during exterior renovations or siding upgrades.