The Canadian government and most home builders suggests that increasing or improving the insulation in attics, floors, and walls and reducing air leaks around the home can save up to 20% or more on home heating and cooling bills. In addition to cutting down on heating and cooling bills, a well insulated home will often sell more money as well. With a little math, homeowners can quickly learn how an insulation project can pay for itself. However, is an insulation a project one can take on by themselves? How is the value of insulation measured and what types of insulation works best for specific areas of the home?
Is Installing Insulation a DIY Project?
The North American Insulation Manufacturers Association says that installing insulation is a project that most homeowners can do on their own, depending on their physical condition and motivation. They also caution that some types of insulation may take specific equipment to install.
Blanket insulation is perhaps the easiest form of insulation to install, coming in batts and rolls. When installing any insulation product, proper tools and safety gear including goggles and gloves should be used.
How is Insulation Effectiveness Rated?
Insulation products are rated by R-value. This is a number that indicates how well a particular type of insulation resists air flow. The higher the R-value, the more resistance the product provides, meaning it is generally considered a better insulator. The recommended amount of R-value for homes depends on where the home is located. Home Depot has a zone map for Canadian homeowners to determine what R-value is recommended for where they live.
Why are There Different Types of Insulation?
Different types of insulation can work better in certain areas of a Lake Country home or building. Choosing the right type of insulation for each area will help improve performance while minimizing expenses.
- Blown-in or Loose-fill Insulation. This type of insulation is generally made of fiberglass or recycled paper (cellulose). Blown-in insulation is often blown into existing walls or added to insulation already in an attic. Because it is loose material it takes a specific machine to blow or spray it into a particular space. These machines are usually available a home improvement stores and tool rental stores.
- Batts and Rolled Insulation. These are pre-cut fiberglass strips designed to fit between studs in an open wall or attic. They can be relatively easy to cut with heavy scissors or a razor knife. Keep in mind fiberglass stands can irritate the skin and eyes so take precautions. This type of insulation is generally easy to work with and perfect for the do it yourself person looking to add insulation to an attic space.
- Foam Board Insulation. Foam board is a stiff insulating material that is usually made of polystyrene or polyurethane. It can be cut to size easily and is versatile enough to be used to insulate foundations, basement walls, attics, and ceilings.
- Spray Foam. Polyurethane or latex foam is a perfect insulator for small spaces around windows or doors and around wall sockets. Simply spray it into an area and it will expand and quickly dry. The foam can be trimmed after drying. It is not recommended to insulate larger spaces.
Other types of insulation include radiant and vapor barrier qualities that can help keep a home more comfortable.
Insulation is an often overlooked aspect of home ownership that can increase the value of a property and make it more environmentally-friendly. It has the additional benefit of lowering energy bills.