Rising energy costs and concerns over climate change have ushered in a new era of awareness for the need to conserve energy. While this focus on energy conservation is welcome, homeowners are bombarded with marketing pitches for a wide variety of home energy improvements and "green" products. One simple fact rises above the confusion—nothing is more important for reducing energy consumption, lowering utility bills and minimizing the environmental impact of a home than proper insulation.
Insulation in your home provides resistance to heat flow and lowers your heating and cooling costs. Properly insulating your home not only reduces heating and cooling costs, but also improves comfort. Regardless of the mechanism, heat flows from warmer to cooler until there is no longer a temperature difference. In your home, this means that in winter, heat flows directly from all heated living spaces to adjacent unheated attics, garages, basements, and even to the outdoors. Heat flow can also move indirectly through interior ceilings, walls, and floors--wherever there is a difference in temperature. During the cooling season, heat flows from the outdoors to the interior of a house.
To maintain comfort, the heat lost in the winter must be replaced by your heating system and the heat gained in the summer must be removed by your cooling system. Properly insulating your home will decrease this heat flow by providing an effective resistance to the flow of heat.
Fiberglass is the most common type of insulation we find while conducting our Home Assessments. A majority of the time, insulation in the attic is deteriorated due to the lack of air sealing. It is essential to air seal the attic properly prior to installing any new insulation, this will dramatically reduce drafts throughout the home and prolong the life expectancy of the insulation. As fiberglass deteriorates over time it becomes less and less effective causing rooms and areas of the home to become drafty and cooler than the rest of the home.
A common improvement EMS offers is R-60 (18 Inches thick) of cellulose insulation to blanket the floor of the attic. In cases where storage is needed in the attic, we will install plywood to the floor joists and insualte that area with cellulose under the floor boards. One of the primary goals homeowners are looking to achieve by insulating their home is improved comfort throughout. We strive to offer consistency in climate throughout the house. There are many different insulation strategies that can be applied, however every home is different, this is why we feel the home energy assessment is critical in determining what the most effective retrofit will be.
An insulating material’s resistance to conductive heat flow is measured or rated in terms of its thermal resistance or R-value -- the higher the R-value, the greater the insulating effectiveness. The R-value depends on the type of insulation, its thickness, and its density. The R-value of some insulations also depends on temperature, aging, and moisture accumulation. When calculating the R-value of a multilayered installation, add the R-values of the individual layers.
Installing more insulation in your home increases the R-value and the resistance to heat flow. In general, increased insulation thickness will proportionally increase the R-value. However, as the installed thickness increases for loose-fill insulation, the settled density of the product increases due to compression of the insulation under its own weight. Because of this compression, loose-fill insulation R-value does not change proportionately with thickness.
Cellulose insulation has been a tried and true method of insulating homes for decades. It is made from recycled paper with one of the highest percentages of post-consumer waste content of any insulation. It is treated with recognized safe fire retardants. Its excellent sound insulating properties, high R-value per inch, and industry leading environmental properties, make cellulose insulation a perfect choice for insulating attics and sidewalls. It is an excellent choice for adding insulation in walls of older existing homes due to the ease of installation. Compiled of 85% recycled paper fibers treated for fire resistance, cellulose is also a great repellent of insects and rodents in attic spaces. GreenFiber, our supplier, is the largest manufacturer of cellulose fiber insulation in the USA.
Spray Foam Insulation:
Open Cell Spray Foam is a type of foam in which the tiny cells that comprise it are not completely closed. It is typically less expensive because it uses fewer chemicals. While it is not recommended for outdoor applications, it can provide insulation in 2×6 walls and attics and sound reduction in interior walls during new home construction or renovations.
R-Values (a measure of thermal resistance) up to R-19 in 2 x 6 construction
A rapid expansion rate of 150 times its size in seconds
Great sound barrier properties
An impermeable air barrier
An ideal solution for large voids, 2 x 6 or larger cavities, roof decks and cathedrals.
Closed cell Spray Foam insulation is denser, because the cells contain less air and are more compact. Because it is structural in nature, it can be used anywhere in the home—including garages and basements—adding 300 to 400% more strength to the home and acting as a substantial barrier against mold- and mildew-causing moisture in finished basements.
Closed cell foam is ideal for masonry and 2 x 4 or 2 x 6 framing and metal buildings. It won’t shrink or settle and offers:
Higher R-Values, up to R-17 in 2 x 4 construction and R-28 in 2 x 6 construction
Increased racking strength (up to 330-400%)
An excellent vapor barrier at .1 Perm (minimum 2 inches).