High Energy Bills? It Could Be Your Insulation
Energy bills are a necessary staple of life, falling in the same list as rent or mortgage payments, phone plans, television or internet packages, and water or trash bills. People do a lot of things to reduce their overall costs, too. They upgrade to new HVAC units when old ones fail, upgrade to more efficient windows, and turn off or unplug items they’re not using.
If you’ve done everything you can to lower your costs but your energy bills still seem to be rising, there may be a hidden culprit involved. It may be time to take a look at your home insulation.
What Is Insulation and What Does It Do?
Insulation comes in many forms — batts, blankets, loose-fill, structural insulated panels, spray and foam — made from fiberglass, rockwool, cotton, cellulose, polystyrene, and polyisocyanurate materials. The type of insulation largely depends on the application, a home or business owner’s budget, and the age of the house or building. Here are a few general rules of thumb:
Cotton batts are easy-to-handle, pricier than other options, and contain at least 85 percent recycled content. It also contains fire retardant, making it great for insulating walls.
Fiberglass batts or blankets contain up to 60 percent recycled content, have paper or foil on one side for easy installation, can be a DIY project, and are generally used inside walls, floors, and ceilings.
Loose-fill fiberglass is fluffy and loose, can lose effectiveness in cold temperatures without additional insulation, and is made from up to 60 percent recycled content.Loose-fill fiberglass insulation should be installed by an expe
Rockwool batts or blankets contain up to 90 percent recycled content, are easy to install, are fire resistant, can mold (retains moisture), and can be a DIY project. They are usually used in walls, floors, and ceilings.
Spray foam costs more than other insulation options. It forms an air-tight barrier which can eliminate weathering or the need for caulking. Some sprays are liquid and expand to fill the space. Spray foam should be installed by a professional.
Structural insulated panels (SIPs)
SIPs boast energy savings of up to 12-14 percent, come in large sheets, will insulate a whole wall surface, and have energy-efficient seams.
How Old Insulation Impacts Energy Bills
If your energy bills are higher than usual, it may be time to have your insulation repaired or replaced. Here are a few indicators of issues going on in your home or office walls and ceilings:
- Air that is cooler or hotter than the temperature readout on your HVAC display
- Cold air drafts
- Large ice dams or icicles forming on the outside of your home or office
- Visible floor joints in your attic
- Lack of caulking around insulation or windows
- If your home or business building is older than ten years
If you’re concerned about your insulation, have an HVAC professional come to your home or office and conduct an energy audit. He or she can check out your HVAC unit to confirm it is working effectively, walk your building, make a diagnosis of how well its current insulation is keeping all that hot and cold air inside, and give you some ideas about next steps.
How to Replace Insulation
It’s important to get multiple estimates before contracting a company to do a full home or office insulation reboot. If you’re short on costs, speak with the company about keeping the old insulation in place and beefing it up to get it up to where it needs to be. That option can often reduce the involved investment while helping you get the results you need.
Ensuring your insulation is effectively sealing in the heat or cold air will mean a home or business that is more energy efficient than ever.