How Insulating Your Home Can Save You Money

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Jan 01, 2011 | Rahel Jaskow
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Photo: Tom Raftery,

As the days grow shorter and colder during these challenging economic times, many homeowners are choosing to heat their homes less in order to save money. While it may be frugal and energy-efficient to reach for a sweater rather than for the thermostat, once winter sets in, a chilly home interior could progress quickly from discomfort to health hazard, particularly if there are small children or elderly people living there.

Roofers from Boston know that insulating your home properly is an excellent way to save money on your heating bill. The following tips should give you a good start on keeping heat in your home and cash in your wallet.

Getting Started

Check existing insulation in the attic, outer walls, floors, crawl spaces and basements. Note what type of insulation you have in each area, and its condition.

If you find that you need to add insulation, find out the recommended R-value for your area. The R-value is the measure of insulation’s ability to resist the flow of heat. The recommended R-value for most attics in the United States is R-38, or about 10 to 14 inches of insulation. Head over to the Energy Star website’s R-value page to check out recommended R-values for your area. For more information, contact your local building department.

Insulation by Area

Once you have determined which areas in your home need insulation and how much, it’s time to consider what sort of insulation each area of your home will need.

The attic. Blown-in insulation or fiberglass batts are good for insulating attics. If you wish to install blown-in cellulose insulation, you can hire a professional or rent a blower from a home-improvement store near you. If you choose to add fiberglass batts to existing insulation and the old insulation reaches the top of the ceiling joists, lay the new insulation perpendicular to the joists, covering them completely. You can also have a professional blow liquid foam insulation between the rafters.

Walls. In order to insulate exterior walls, “fur out” the wall by applying framing lumber to the inside of the wall. This creates space for adding more insulation. You can use 2x4s, 2x6s or smaller furring strips for this project. Then you can install the insulation or have liquid foam insulation sprayed between the strips. This method, which is particularly appropriate for solid brick and concrete walls, is a job for a professional.

Floors. It’s important to set up a proper moisture barrier for this project. If you live in a cold climate, where moist air tends to move from the inside to the outside, place the vapor barrier side of the insulation against the floor to protect the insulation from moisture coming from the house. If you live in a warm climate, the vapor barrier should face downward toward the crawl space beneath the floor (if there is one) to prevent any moisture there from entering the insulation.

Windows. Consider installing double-glazed windows, window film insulation and weatherstripping around windows and doors in order to prevent heat from escaping.

Safety First

Make sure to keep the insulation from touching any wiring. As you work in these rarely-seen spaces of your home, you may discover things that you would not have seen otherwise, such as wiring that has frayed or broken entirely. If you do, call an electrician to fix the problem before going any further with your project.

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