If you are preparing to build a home, undertake other new construction, or put on an addition, then now is a good time to chat with the experts about proper insulation. Properly installed insulation reduces heating and cooling costs by reducing how much heat is lost and gained through a building’s envelope. There are various types of insulation to choose from, and making that choice is usually based on the R-value you hope to achieve, whether you are adding insulation to an existing home or building new, the climate you live in, and whether the job is being done by professionals or not.
Most common insulation materials work by slowing heat flow. Heat flows from warmer to cooler areas until there is no longer any difference in temperature. For example, in your home in winter, heat will flow from all of your heated living spaces to any adjacent unheated attics, garages, basements or even to the outdoors. Heat flow can also move indirectly through interior ceilings, walls and floors. Anywhere there is a difference in temperature there will be heat flow. (In summer, the reverse process takes place with hotter air from the outside trying to work its way in to the cooler temperature areas inside.)
In order for you to keep your work or living space comfortable, you must make up for the heat loss in winter and the heat gain in summer. Insulation can help you balance this heat flow.
Various insulation materials have different R-values. The R-value refers to an insulation’s insulating effectiveness and is based on its type, thickness and density. Different R-values are recommended for different locations in a home or other building. The higher the R number the greater its capacity for blocking air.
The U.S. Department of Energy recommends certain minimum insulation values for homes based on the climate they are located in. Homes here in the north should have at least R-19 in the walls and R-38 to R-49 in the ceilings. Please note that these are only minimum recommendations. If you really want an energy efficient home, your contractor, or a firm such as ours, which specializes in insulation, can offer more detailed information. How your house is built, its age and location can also affect how much insulation you need in order to have a comfortable and energy-efficient home.
Insulating materials vary greatly and include bulky fiber materials such as fiberglass, rock and slag wool; cellulose and natural fibers, rigid foam boards and sleek foils. Reflective foil types are more frequently used in climates where cooling is the priority.
Here at Nickerson-Remick, we recommend spray foam insulation. Simply put, spray foam (spray polyurethane foam) is the most efficient and cost-effective insulation you can put into your home. It is made from liquid elements which, when combined, become a foam that expands 20 to 30 times its liquid state, allowing it to fill cracks and areas traditional insulation cannot reach. SPF is most commonly applied to the walls, floors, and ceilings of a building.
What are the benefits of spray foam insulation?
• SPF eliminates air infiltration, drastically reducing year-round HVAC costs–in some cases by as much as 40 percent.
• Keeps moisture out–the cause of harmful mold and mildew
• Helps keep insects, rodents, and other pests where they belong– outside
• Provides superior noise insulation
There are two type of spray foam: Open-Cell Foam and Closed-Cell Foam. Both offer many benefits to the consumer, and both types of spray foam insulation are commonly used in most building applications. But, some are inappropriate for certain uses. For example, you typically would not use Open-Cell Foam below grade where it could absorb water. This would negate its thermal performance because water is a poor insulator as compared to air.
Closed-Cell Foam is a good choice where small framing sizes need the greatest R-value per inch possible. You can learn more about both types of foam on the Services page of this website.
Basically, the choice depends on the conditions of each installation. We routinely select from a wide variety of foam systems with varying characteristics, depending on the particular requirements of our clients’ projects. With either system, clients can expect a 30 to 50 percent savings in energy costs. Because of escalating energy costs in recent years, the payback period has been dramatically reduced giving customers a prompter return on their investment. After the payback period, the structure will still be yielding a 30-50 percent return on investment–not many investments do that today!
Insulating your home or business is an important step, and one that can yield many benefits for years to come. If you have insulation questions, please call us–we have been providing insulation expertise for more than 50 years!Share post