DO YOU EVER FEEL A CHILL, crank up the heat, hear the furnace kick on … then feel no warmer? If so, your home might need better insulation.
The reason why is because heat flows from a warmer spot in the home to a cooler one until there is no longer a temperature difference. This means that in the winter, heat flows directly from heated living spaces in your homes to adjacent garages, unheated attics, and outdoors.
Properly insulating your home decreases this flow by providing resistance. Unless your home was specially constructed for energy efficiency, you can reduce your energy bills by adding more insulation.
Inspect and Evaluate
To determine whether you should add insulation, find out where your home does, does not, and should have insulation.
Check the walls, floors, and ceilings in unheated spaces such as the attic and garage. Structural elements are usually exposed in these areas, which makes it easy to see the type and thickness of surrounding insulation.
You can inspect exterior wall insulation through an electrical outlet. First turn off power to the outlet. Remove the cover and shine a flashlight into the gap around the outlet box. You should be able to see if there is insulation and possibly how thick it is. If needed, pull out a small amount of insulation to help determine its type.
Use this method to check outlets in all rooms of your house. Just because you find insulation in one wall doesn’t mean it’s everywhere in the house.
Choose the Right Insulation
Once you’ve figured out the types of existing insulation and their thicknesses, consult the U.S. Department of Energy’s online insulation fact sheet at energy.gov/energysaver/insulation to determine the corresponding R-values.
Once you find out the R-values of your existing insulation, you then can use the Home Energy Saver tool at hes.lbl.gov to determine how much insulation you need to add and where to add it for maximum energy efficiency.
Be sure to select the proper type of insulation for your home once you know where you’ll be installing the new stuff and what R-value you want the new installation to achieve.