More than half of the energy that Americans use goes to heating and cooling homes, but a surprising percentage of that goes straight out the window. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, nearly every home in the country would benefit from an insulation upgrade. Before hiring insulation contractors, it’s important to be aware of exactly what is needed. Here is a checklist to run through before beginning any insulation project:
- Find out if your home is air sealed.¬ If your home is not air sealed properly, you may be losing as much as 30 percent of the energy that you pay for annually to air leaks, according to Energy.gov. Full energy audits by certified technicians will reveal the problem areas and the extent of the specific leaks in your home. Parts of a house where leakage is common include the basement, attic, main floors, the roof or the ceilings. It’s impossible to know with any certainty where or how large the leaks are without a professional audit.¬ Before this step is complete, there is no point in adding insulation.
- Check on the location of existing insulation.¬ Not every area of a home is meant to be insulated. Nonetheless, it’s useful to know exactly where your home has insulation installed so you can put together a plan for the efficiency upgrade. Inspect the different areas of your house so you know what parts need insulating. Home performance technicians can advise you on the best plan of attack.
- Determine what kind of insulation your home has.¬ Another useful bit of information is the type of insulation you currently have inside your home. Popular types include fiberglass, rock and slag wool, cellulose, foam, reflective and radiant barrier. The easiest way to check on the kind of insulation already installed is to visit a part of the home where it is exposed and in plain view. In many homes, the attic is the easiest place to inspect and check this item off your list.
- Confirm your home has a proper R-value for the climate.¬ Once you know where and what type of insulation you have, it’s crucial to check on the material’s R-value. The R-value is the measurement that signifies the material’s resistance to heat flow. Most Atlanta-area homes, from McDonough to Woodstock and beyond, are best off with an R-value of 3, though insulation contractors can recommend your ideal number. In any contract, make sure a specific R-value is spelled out so you know the level of insulation you’ll receive. Thickness is largely irrelevant.
- Calculate a budget for the insulation project. Since sealing air leaks is the place to begin when undertaking an energy-efficiency upgrade, you should budget for a two-part project.¬ Keep in mind that you’ll pay back the investment in insulation quickly. In some cases, the payback could materialize in a year’s time. Even in the newest of homes, insulation upgrades save enough energy to make you take notice on the first utility bills you receive afterward.
Reliable Heating & Air specializes in getting your home operating at peak energy efficiency. Call for a home performance audit and find out how much you can save through leak sealing and insulation upgrades.
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