Improving on your Insulation
Before you get carried away and start adding insulation to you attic, walls etc take the time to look around and improve on some seemingly small but important energy saving issues.
Air infiltration is a major source of energy loss. You can reduce the amount of air infiltration in your home by utilizing some of these simple inexpensive tips.
Install gaskets behind coverplates
Install glass doors on fireplaces
Windows and door openings are like holes in your walls. They may account for 10 - 25% of fuel bills on average, and much more if you have inefficient windows and live in a very cold climate. Because of a window's inherent low R-value, improvements are relatively easy. For example, adding a storm window or sheet of window plastic to a standard window (approximately R-1) will improve its R-value by 100%, reduce heat loss, and improve comfort.
Caulk window and door trim, install weatherstripping on doors and windows. To see if your weatherstripping is good enough try this simple test. Insert a dollar bill into the opening and close the door or window. You should have to tug a bit to remove it. If it slides out easily you should replace the weatherstripping.
Don't overlook another area in your home where energy can be saved--the ductwork of the heating and air-conditioning system.
The Department of Energy Reports that typical savings of 16% on energy bills are due to Duct Repair.
If water lines and the ducts of your heating or air-conditioning system run through unheated or uncooled spaces in your home, such as attic or crawl spaces, then the water lines and the ducts should be insulated.
First check the ductwork for air leaks. Repair leaking joints first with mechanical fasteners, then seal any remaining leaks with water-soluble mastic and embedded fiber glass mesh.
Never use gray cloth duct tape because it degrades, cracks, and loses its bond with age. If a joint has to be accessible for future maintenance, use pressure- or heat-sensitive aluminum foil tape. Then wrap the ducts with duct wrap insulation of R-6 with a vapor retarder facing on the outer side. (If you live in the deep South or southern California, you can use R-4 insulation.) All joints where sections of insulation meet should have overlapped facings and be tightly sealed with fiber glass tape; but avoid compressing the insulation, thus reducing its thickness and R-value. In many parts of the country, this type of insulation will pay for itself in energy saved.
TIP: Easy, permanent repairs can be made using polyester tape and Vapor Retarder Mastic, a thick, non-toxic, fireproof,elastic, insulating coating intended for sealing and Insulating your duct work, water heater and exposed pipes.
Adding Insulation, the Types:
BLANKETS, in the form of batts or rolls, are flexible products made from mineral fibers. They are available in widths suited to standard spacings of wall studs and attic or floor joists. Continuous rolls can be hand-cut and trimmed to fit. They are available with or without vapor retarder facings. Batts with a special flame-resistant facing are available in various widths for basement walls where the insulation will be left exposed.
BLOWN-IN loose-fill insulation includes loose fibers or fiber pellets that are blown into building cavities or attics using special pneumatic equipment. Another form includes fibers that are co-sprayed with an adhesive to make them resistant to settling. The blown-in material can provide additional resistance to air infiltration if the insulation is sufficiently dense.
FOAMED-IN-PLACE polyurethane foam insulation can be applied by a professional applicator using special equipment to meter, mix, and spray into place. Polyurethane foam can also help to reduce air leaks.
RIGID INSULATION is made from fibrous materials or plastic foams and is pressed or extruded into board-like forms and molded pipe-coverings. These provide thermal and acoustical insulation, strength with low weight, and coverage with few heat loss paths. Such boards may be faced with a reflective foil that reduces heat flow when next to an air space.
REFLECTIVE INSULATION SYSTEMS are fabricated from aluminum foils with a variety of backings such as kraft paper, plastic film, polyethylene bubbles, or cardboard . The resistance to heat flow depends on the heat flow direction, and this type of insulation is most effective in reducing downward heat flow. Reflective systems are typically located between roof rafters, floor joists, or wall studs.
RADIANT BARRIERS. Radiant barrriers are sometimes used in buildings to reduce summer heat gain and winter heat loss. New on the scene is Barrier Coat a latex base, aluminum, insulating coating that can be easily applied to the underside of your roof decking to block UV heat intrusion. Tests to date have shown that in attics with R-19 insulation, radiant barriers can reduce summer ceiling heat gains by about 16 to 42 percent compared to an attic with the same insulation level and no radiant barrier."
SPRAY FOAM: is a two component, foam-in-place polyurethane product that is installed at high temperatures using specialized equipment. The insulation is sprayed in as a liquid which expands about 120 times its liquid volume in a matter of seconds to effectively insulate and air seal the area it is being applied.
INSULATION PAINT: The newest space age technology at work. Paint that is reinforced with vacuum filled ceramic beads. These beads form an insulating air barrier on the surface of the painted area which greatly reduces the transfer of heat from one side to the other. These paints are the perfect solution for older homes with little or no insulation.
Sure beats breaking out the walls to add insulation.