As usual in Kansas City we are experiencing spring temperatures one day and snow the next. The big fluctuations in temperature have our clients asking about home insulation and for good reason. A poorly insulated home can make for insanely high utility bills and a less than comfortable home. According to the NAIMA (North American Insulation Manufacturers Association), 90% of homes in the U.S. are under-insulated.
The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that 42% of a homeowner’s utility bill is spent on heating and cooling. The cost to heat and cool a poorly insulated home is significantly higher. When a home is poorly insulated the heated or cooled air that your HVAC systems produces escapes through the walls and attic. Approximately 25% of the heated air in a home escapes through the attic, roof, and windows. Another 35% can be lost through the walls. A properly insulated home can actually decrease your utility bills by an average of 20%!
There are different types of home insulation with different R values applied to them based on thermal resistance and thickness. The higher the R-value, the better the insulation. The R-value is a variable value that measures the ability of a material to block heat rather than radiate it, or oppose the flow of heat energy. The variability is dependent upon the thickness of the material.
There are three common types of insulation:
Fiberglass batting insulation – the most common and cost-effective. This is the pink fluff of fiberglass and silicone insulation you see between the wall studs and ceiling joists. Fiberglass insulation is non-flammable and has an R-value of R-2.9 to R-3.8 per inch.
Spray Foam insulation – it’s lightweight and has an R-value of R-6.3 per inch of thickness. This type of insulation is also fire resistant and is an excellent sound barrier. This option is pricier than Fiberglass batting but has better performance.
Cellulose Insulation – the most eco-friendly of the three, it is made up of recycled materials such as paper and cardboard. Cellulose has an R-value ranging from R-3.1 to R-3.7. It’s interesting that being the material is made of flammable recycled materials one would gather that it is much less fire-resistant. On the contrary, it is actually one of the most fire-resistant forms of insulation. This is due to the compactness of the material once installed. It is so compact that there is little to no oxygen within it. This lack of oxygen increases the fire resistance.
If you own a home you can save a lot of money over time by ensuring your home is properly insulated. If you are building a home one of the best suggestions we can provide is to do it right in the beginning and enjoy the savings and comfort over a longer period of time.