Older homes are likely to more poorly insulated than new or recent builds, mainly because of modern building standards that stress energy efficiency. In our Southern climate, many homeowners mainly worry about using insulation to keep the heat out in the summer. But insulation is also important in the winter, when you want to retain heat inside your home. This fall may be a good time to reassess your home’s insulation.
Where to Check. In existing houses, learn where to check to be sure there’s sufficient insulation. Start with:
1. Attics. The sun’s heat can transfer downward from poorly insulated attics. Heat, of course, rises, so in winter it ascends into the attic, either through heat energy or warm air, forcing your furnace or heat pump to work harder to compensate for the lost heat. Insulating between and above exposed joists and rafters of unfinished attic spaces is the most common approach.
2. Walls. Drafts around doors and windows are an indication of heat transfer, but heat transfer takes place around penetrations made for cables and pipes. Insulation batts can be installed between frame studs, be they wood or metal, if you’re replacing your siding.
3. Below the Floor. In unvented crawlspaces and basements, the ground should be covered with a vapor retarder. Insulating material should be placed on the insides of the walls, and should also extend a few feet over the ground surface.
R-value. Insulation is numerically rated in terms of thermal resistance. This is called its “R-value” – the “R” standing for “resistance” – and the higher the number, the better its performance. R-value depends on material type, thickness and density. The R-values of multi-layered coverings is often more effective than a single strata.
Product types. Insulation can arrive in rigid panel form or as rolls, properly called “batts.” Then there’s spray-foam and even reflective products. Old-style blown-in loose-fill may still be the best solution in certain locations. Cellulose and fiberglass fibers, suspended in an adhesive or foam can also be sprayed into the open wall cavities of a new house.
Assessing your home’s insulation involves many variables. The best way to ensure the results are accurate is to have an energy evaluation by a professional heating and air conditioning company. Please contact us at Powers Heating & Air to schedule a consultation for your Peachtree City area home.
Our goal is to help educate our customers in Peachtree, Georgia and surrounding areas about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).
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