How To Find Out If Your Insulation Works

InsulationWhen winter is around the corner, homeowners rush to make their home warmer. HVAC maintenance helps, but to achieve Whole-Home Comfort your home needs good insulation too. The cost-effective way to find out how to keep your home warm all winter long, without paying more for heat.

In Maryland, where the temperature drops in the winter, insulation plays a big role in your comfort and energy costs. You can save as much as 20-percent on your heating and cooling costs.

In the winter, your insulation helps keep cold air out and warm air in, allowing your furnace to work as efficiently as possible. In the summer, the opposite is true. Your attic insulation keeps the cool air in and the hot air out, letting your air conditioner to do the best job it can.

How do you know if you have enough insulation?
For maximum comfort levels, your home needs insulation from the roof to the foundation. It’s commonly found in the attic, exterior walls, crawl spaces, and your basement.

More isn’t always better. With too much of it, you experience diminishing returns (you get less and less from more and more). Too little and your energy bills will rise quickly. The right amount of attic insulation WILL save you money by making your home more energy-efficient.

Just because you have insulation doesn’t mean it’s working. An HVAC technician ensures it’s installed to specifications and in good shape.

Head to your attic and look across your floor joists. What do you see? If your attic insulation is below the joists, you probably need more. If you can’t easily see your floor joists, you probably have enough attic insulation. Look for low spots and even distribution.

Maryland home energy audit

It’s more difficult to assess the quality of the rest of your insulation because it’s behind walls.

A home energy audit is the only way to find out if your insulation keeps you warm. It also serves lots of other purposes!

Think of a Maryland home energy audit as a problem-solving exercise. After you have it done, you’ll know about all the issues.

Minnick’s Energy Audit tests your home’s performance. If you have household drafts, this will identify hidden sources of air leaks and ways to fix them. Sometimes it is air sealing and other times it is attic insulation.

Types of insulation

Now that you know if your insulation is sufficient, what type do you get?

Spray foam and cellulose are the most popular types of insulation.

Spray Foam is primarily used in walls, preventing cold air from passing through your home. The HVAC technician sprays insulation into the walls of your home, where it expands to fill all of the spaces. Best of all, spray foam does not deteriorate like the more traditional cellulose insulation, and it resists moisture at a much better rate.

Cellulose is recommended for the attic. It’s made from recycled newspaper. The insulation receives a special borate treatment so it’s fire-resistant. Best of all cellulose is far superior to traditional fiberglass batt insulation, both in terms of cost and performance.

A higher R-value means more insulating power. Keep in mind, though, it works best when the air is not moving through or around it. You should seal the air leaks in your home first. An energy audit will identify these areas of air leakage.

The recommended insulation level for most attics in Maryland is at least R-38 and up to R-60, with an insulation depth of 12-22 inches, according to Energy Star. The R-Value measures the insulation’s ability to resist heat flow.

Spray foam or cellulose insulation can make all the difference in the comfort of your home, and at the same time, these materials can reduce pollen and other irritants, improving indoor air quality.

Whole-Home Comfort

While insulation will lower utility bills and improve your comfort, the energy audit may find other areas of your home that need improving. These may include air sealing and duct sealing.

For Whole-Home Comfort, your home also needs adequate ventilation. The energy audit identifies weak spots and ways to fix them.

When one or more of these are not working as they should, you will suffer drafts, excessive humidity, stuffy air and discomfort due to a home that is too cold or too hot. You will also spend more on your energy bill.

Both air sealing and sufficient insulation are top ways to vastly increase the comfort level in your Montgomery and Howard County home