Experts are predicting that energy bills will continue to rise by at least 10% in the U.S. Both homeowners and apartment residents need every tool at their disposal to keep these costs down.
But creating an energy-efficient home can seem overwhelming and time consuming. How do you keep these costs down without spending an arm and a leg to do it?
That’s where insulation comes in. These materials keep warm air in or out of your home to better control your indoor temperatures without having to crank your AC or heater.
In this article, we’ll be looking at different types of insulation and how they reduce property owner and resident energy costs.
What is Insulation?
Insulation is a material that prevents heat loss or heat gain by providing a barrier between the inside of a building and the temperature outside. It does this by either absorbing heat or reflecting it.
A well-insulated home keeps hot air out of your house during the summer and keeps warm air generated by your heaters from escaping during the winter. Let’s look at how insulation works to better understand its role in reducing your energy costs.
How Does Insulation Work?
The main role of insulation is to keep your home’s temperature consistent, by reducing temperature fluctuations without your heaters or AC units doing most of the work.
The thing about heat is that it tends to move where it doesn’t exist. Heat constantly chases after colder air to balance out its environment.
That means if your house is warmer or cooler than it is outside, heat will gravitate towards areas that are colder.
Thus, outdoor heat invades your home and makes it hotter during the summer. When it’s colder in the winter, your warm heater air will try to escape outside.
Let’s take a look at the different types of insulation and how they each affect your home’s energy consumption.
Types of Insulation
The most common insulation is ones made out of cellulose or fiberglass that you commonly see in attics. Reflective insulation is also becoming popular for how well it keeps your energy costs down.
Fiberglass is one of the most popular types of insulation. It’s created from melted glass turned into fibers and is extremely cost-effective.
It’s usually installed through a blanket system of rolls and batts. Alternatively, fiberglass can be blown-in using a machine. It can be applied in new construction and also in a retrofit situation.
Cellulose is an eco-friendly option that’s also extremely effective. Made out of mostly recycled paper and waste, it’s also insect and fire-resistant.
Like fiberglass, cellulose can be installed as a blanket, or through blown-in machines. This type of insulation is commonly used in a retrofit application.
Mineral Wool Insulation
Mineral wool is typically made out of raw materials like stone and glass that’s melted at high temperatures. It’s an excellent option for insulating your attics, while also keeping them sound and fire-proof.
Spray foam insulation is another great option for improving the thermal barrier of your home. It can be applied from the inside of an open attic, or injected into sidewall cavities. While it can be more expensive than other types of insulation, it can provide a higher level of insulation per inch, reducing energy consumption even more.
4 Ways Insulation Can Reduce Energy Costs
At this point, you may be asking: But why insulate? How does this reduce my energy costs?
Home insulation’s role in keeping heat in or out of your home has tangible effects that go beyond just keeping it warmer or cooler. Let’s discuss how these effects reduce energy costs for you and your tenant.
Prevents Heat Loss
As we’ve already discussed, insulation is great at keeping heat in or out of your building. Whether you install insulation in your sidewall or reflective insulation in your home attic, you’re effectively taking a lot of stress off of your AC and heating systems.
In buildings over 1 story, warm air and pressure differentials create stack effect. Stack effect drives warm air from the lower part of the building up to the roof. Therefore, attic and ceiling insulation is particularly valuable in the winter. Decreased heat loss means you won’t have to crank your heating system as often.
Seals Air Leaks
Your home might have a few drafty spots that constantly let cold air in and warm air out. Drafty homes require more energy to heat or cool than homes that are more tightly insulated.
You can use insulation, air sealing with foam or caulking, as well as weather strip these drafty areas to reduce the amount of air going in and out. By leveraging insulation this way, your home becomes less drafty and can lower your energy bills in the process.
Insulates Your Ducts
If your home has a central heating system that pushes air through a duct system, you may notice that your ducts are leaking air. This lowers your system’s efficiency significantly but can be fixed through sealing and insulation.
Properly insulating and sealing these ducts allows the warm and cool air generated to properly get where it needs to go. If less air escapes through these ducts, your heater and coolers won’t have to work as hard, and you will be more comfortable.
Prevents Roof Damage
In uninsulated homes, the warm air generated by heaters in the winter often rises to the attic and meets the cold outdoor air around the roof. This causes condensation, or water droplets, to accumulate on your roof. Also, during temperature swings in the winter, when snow and ice freeze and melt, ice dams can form, creating even more damage to your roof and inside your building.
Condensation creates moisture that often turns to mold. By insulating your ceilings and roof, you can prevent this roof damage while keeping warm air inside the home.
Leverage Home Insulation to Save You (and Your resident) Money
Whether you’re a homeowner, a property manager, or an apartment resident, different types of insulation can help keep your monthly energy bills down. Use this article to figure out how to better control your home temperatures and make your home or building more energy-efficient.