One of the most effective ways to reduce your energy consumption and create a comfortable home environment is to include good insulation material in the design, construction, and renovation of your home.
In a report published by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), adding insulation in the attics and floors and air sealing the entire home can reduce the heating and cooling costs by an average of 15%.
And with reduced energy consumption, homeowners may find it easier to finance their house since banks and lenders use energy efficiency as a factor when deciding whether you qualify as a borrower.
Meanwhile, the list below explains the most common types of insulation to create a more energy-efficient home.
These are usually batts or rolls of flexible fiberglass, although you can also find other materials such as plastic fibers, minerals, and natural fibers like wool and cotton.
Batts and rolls are currently the most commonly used home insulation material because they are the most affordable option.
Because this type of insulation is made of small particles of fiber, foam, or other materials that conform to any space, it is ideal for locations where it would be difficult to use other types of insulation.
Today’s loose-fill insulation uses recycled materials such as cellulose, which comes from used newsprint, while fiberglass often contains 40-60% recycled glass, and mineral wool consists of post-industrial recycled materials.
Also referred to as rigid foam, foam board is a flexible insulation material because it can be installed in any part of the house, from the roof, attic, basement wall, foundation, and down to the floors.
Aside from their “flexibility,” foam boards have excellent thermal resistance, up to two times greater than most home insulation materials of the same thickness.
Foam boards are usually made of polyurethane, polystyrene, and polyisocyanurate.
Radiant Barriers and Reflective Insulation
Instead of resisting conductive heat flow, which is how most insulation systems work, radiant barriers maintain a comfortable temperature by reflecting radiant heat. For this reason, they are commonly installed in attics that are prone to high temperatures during the summer season.
Reflective insulation such as aluminum foils is incorporated into other insulating materials such as cardboard, plastic film, and kraft paper to further keep the summer heat out.
Radiant barriers are more ideal in hot climates; this is particularly true if your home’s cooling air ducts are located in the attic. In contrast, thermal insulation is better if you live in a cold region.
Previous studies have shown that in hot climates, radiant barriers can reduce cooling costs by 5-10%.
Concrete Block Insulation
While these hallowed blocks are used to build house foundations and walls, they can also serve as an effective insulation system. However, studies show that any type of core filling only offers little improvement in energy efficiency because the solid parts of the wall easily conduct heat.
Instead of core filling or putting rigid foam inserts, Energy Saver recommends insulating the outside surface of the blocks, particularly the exterior, to create a more comfortable indoor environment. But for existing homes, insulating the block walls from the inside can also make them energy efficient.
Insulating Concrete Forms or ICFs
ICFs are poured into concrete walls, creating high thermal resistance, which means lower heat loss. Compared to other insulation systems, they require an experienced contractor during installation.
ICFs are hollow-core foam blocks that are fastened together with plastic ties. To strengthen the wall during construction, steel roads are placed inside the hollow cores before the concrete is poured into them.
Nowadays, the concrete-filled cores of blocks are treated with chemicals to prevent pest infestation and water damage.
Liquid foam insulation can be sprayed, poured, and injected into the attic surface and under floors to minimize air leakage. Compared to traditional batt and roll installation, they have a higher R-value, meaning they have greater insulating power.
Another benefit of using spray foam insulation is that you can use them in small spaces and cavities, such as door and window frames, to reduce air leakage and maintain a more comfortable indoor temperature.
This board consists of mineral wool or fiberglass mineral and is generally used to insulate HVAC systems and high temperature areas. Typically, their thickness ranges between 1 inch and 2.5 inches.
Cost of Insulation
The types of insulation that use foam are generally more expensive than traditional batt and roll insulation. Despite their higher upfront cost, using them can help you save more money in the long run because of their higher R-value or energy efficiency. Also, during construction or major renovation, they can reduce costs because they eliminate the need for some specialized contractors.
With foam insulation, you can eliminate some weathering jobs such as installing vapor barrier and taping joints, caulking, and house wrapping.
To learn more about insulation systems and the many ways to make your home energy efficient, contact roofing and insulation expert Yorkshire Roofing at (800) 794-7444. Since 1988, the company has served thousands of homeowners and commercial establishments in Northern California.