Winter will be here before you long, at least for those in the northern part of the country, you might be starting to regret not taking a closer look at the insulation in your home during the summer months. The time is right to make your home more efficient, and cozy, for winter!
Here are six steps to sealing in the heat and keeping the cold out:
- Schedule an energy audit. Before you begin adding insulation, check to see that your home is well sealed, and that there are no major areas where cold air can seep through that could be easily fixed. You can do this yourself with just some time and close observation; but you also might be able to get a free home efficiency assessment through your energy company. They may be able to give you tips and even discounts that you might not otherwise have known about.
- Find out what kind of insulation is already in your home. Look for exposed areas in partially unfinished areas, such as the attic, basement, stairwells, closets or utility areas. Your aim is to figure out the type and thickness of the existing insulation, and remember, you may have more than one kind in your home, so look thoroughly.
- Determine R-Value. The “R-Value” or resistance value of any given insulation tells you how well it resists the flow of heat out of your home. Now that you know the type and thickness of the insulation in your home, you can determine its R-Value and compare it to what’s recommended for your home and geographical area by following this link: http://hes.lbl.gov/consumer/
- Decide on what type of insulation to use. Insulation has come a long way since the days of asbestos and, more recently, fiberglass and foam. Today, there are many eco-friendly options including cork, wool, and cellulose, which is made from recycled newsprint and other types of paper. R-Value is not the only thing you should consider when choosing insulation: price, density, sound cancelling properties and flammability of the material are just a few other things to consider.
- Decide where to put it, and whether to remove the old stuff. Attics or exposed areas near the top of the home are the best place to start, since warm air rises before it tries to escape. If the old insulation is dry and in decent shape, it’s just fine to put the new stuff right on top, in fact, it’s recommended. If the old insulation is damaged or rotten, seek professional help with getting it removed.
- Install your new insulation. We’re not going to give you detailed directions on how to install insulation in this post. But here are two important tips you need to know: make sure you provide for adequate ventilation; and be sure to place the vapor barrier strategically to avoid moisture problems down the line.