Long before people knew what it meant to “go green,” home builders were also clueless about carbon footprints. In other words, they weren’t particularly concerned with energy usage in the home. As a result, most older and historic homes are inefficient when it comes to heating and cooling and maintaining a consistent, year-round temperature. Heat is lost and cold is gained far too easily in these abodes. The result is that heating and cooling systems must work harder, i.e., use more energy to maintain the desired temperature.
This situation is not only bad for the environment, but it also hurts your wallet (Read some facts about insulation and the environment here). Energy costs for these homes are generally much higher, often because of inadequate insulation. The good news is the problem is relatively easy and inexpensive to fix. An energy audit from a reputable insulation company should tell you everything you need to know about how energy efficient your abode actually is.
When to get an energy audit?
If your home was built before 1980, there’s about a 50 percent chance that it does not have enough insulation. With that said, even some newer homes could benefit from insulation replacement or supplementation. The easiest way to tell if an energy audit should be scheduled is to find out what your neighbors are paying for their monthly heating and cooling bills. If their homes are roughly the same size as yours and they’re receiving much smaller energy bills, it’s probably a good idea to contact an insulation company as soon as possible.
What are the benefits?
According to the United States Department of Energy (USDOE), adding home insulation is the easiest and most effective way to instantly save money and reduce your carbon footprint. The right kind of insulation put in the right places will help keep your ceilings, walls, and floors cooler in the summertime and warmer in the winter months.
DIY or call in a pro?
Home insulation is generally made of either fiberglass or cellulose. It may be possible to find both types at your local hardware store or home improvement center, but the highest quality insulation is only sold to licensed professionals. This insulation features blown-in materials, instead of loose-fill. Because they are more expensive and harder to work with, this blown-in home insulation is not made available to the public.
As for the material, fiberglass insulation is easier to find and a bit cheaper, but cellulose insulation is more flexible and greener. Made of ground-up, recycled newspapers, it can fit into just about any space, rather than having to be rolled out and cut up like fiber insulation. Cellulose fiber insulation is also treated with fire-retardant chemicals, making it a safer than fiberglass batts in the event of a fire.
Where to add it?
No matter which type of insulation you choose to have installed, the attic is often the best place the start. This is the room where most of the heat is lost and the cold comes in, depending on the season. Adding extra insulation to the walls, floors, and ceilings of your attic can instantly make your home more energy efficient. For obvious reasons, we strongly recommend that you hire a professional to do the work for you. The project can generally be completed in a single day, which means it shouldn’t cost all that much.