Roles on Insulation
Electricity bills, oil bills, gas
bills--all homeowners pay for one or more of these utilities, and wish they paid
less. Often many of us do not really know how to control or reduce our utility
bills. We resign ourselves to high bills because we think that is the price we
have to pay for a comfortable home. We encourage our children to turn off the
lights and appliances, but may not recognize the benefits of insulating the
Why Should You Insulate?
Heating and cooling ("space
conditioning") account for 50 to 70% of the energy used in the average
American home. About 20% goes for heating water. On the other hand, lighting and
appliances and everything else account for only 10 to 30% of the energy used in
most residences. It makes good sense to turn lights and appliances off when they
are not needed, and you'll save even more on your energy costs if your reduce
the amount of energy needed for heating and cooling.
Unless your home was constructed
with special attention to energy efficiency, adding insulation will probably
reduce your utility bills. Much of the existing housing stock in the United
States is not insulated to the best level. Older homes are likely to use more
energy than newer homes, leading to very high heating and air-conditioning
bills. Even if you own a new home, adding insulation may save enough money in
reduced utility bills to pay for itself within a few years, continue to save you
money for as long as you own the home, and increase the resale value of your
The Crucial Role of Thermal
Inadequate insulation and air
leakage are leading causes of energy waste in most homes. Insulation saves money
and our nation's limited energy resources. It can also make your house more
comfortable by helping to maintain a uniform temperature throughout the house.
Walls, ceilings, and floors will be warmer in the winter and cooler in the
summer. Insulation can also act as a sound absorber or barrier, keeping noise
It is possible to add insulation to
almost any house. You may be able to do the job yourself if the structural
framing is accessible--for instance, in unfinished attics or under the floor
over an unheated space. Or, you may prefer to hire an insulation contractor. In
either case, it is important to choose and install the insulation correctly.
The amount of energy you conserve
will depend on several factors: your local climate; the size, shape, and
construction of your house; the living habits of your family; the type and
efficiency of the heating and cooling systems; and the fuel you use. Once the
energy savings have paid for the installation cost, energy conserved is money
saved--and the annual savings will increase if utility rates go up.
It is most important to:
- Insulate your attic
the recommended level, including the attic door, or hatch cover.
- Provide the recommended level of
insulation under floors above unheated spaces, around walls in a heated
basement or unventilated crawl space, and on the edges of slabs-on-grade.
- Use the recommended levels of
insulation for exterior walls for new house construction. When
remodeling or re-siding your house, consider using the levels recommended
for new construction in your existing walls.