If you were stuck outside on a cold winter day, what would be one thing you wish you had? Most of us would say a coat or a warm blanket to keep you warm and help insulate your internal body temperature. But the cold air doesn’t just affect us; it directly affects the efficiency of our home.
Insulation is the “coat” for your home. And according to the Department of Energy, one of the most cost effective ways to make your home comfortable year-round is to add insulation to your attic, including the attic trap and access door. The main purpose of insulation is to keep either the warm or cold air, depending on the season, inside your home. A home without a sufficient amount of insulation will allow the outside air to penetrate the living area of your home, which will in turn making everyone inside uncomfortable and will also make the HVAC system less efficient because it will have to work harder to produce warm or cool air.
Because attic insulation plays such an important role in the home, there are strict codes that must be followed to ensure every home is equipped with the proper amount. And because of climate different cities have different codes, and currently all Houston homes must have 13 inches of insulation. But just because your home has the minimum amount in place, doesn’t mean that it is enough to keep your home running as efficiently as it could.
“A lot of homes want to be labeled an Energy Star Home, and this means that parts of the home are extremely efficient,” said John Moore Services HVAC Coach Lewis Yancey. “But 80% of homes, even new homes, are not built with enough insulation to be labeled Energy Efficient. Energy Star rates homes based on the recommendation of HUD, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and the EPA, the Environmental Protection Agency.”
There are two basic types of insulation, Batt and Blown-in. Both perform the same function, but the application process is different.
Batt insulation comes in large pink roles, and it’s typically made of fiberglass, but can also be made of wool and other natural fibers. It is not that difficult to install, but is labor intensive because it has to be rolled in and cut to fit the desired area. It is best suited in areas of the attic that are free from obstructions, and can also be placed in-between walls. The down side is that because it comes in rolls, it is hard to place in tight spaces and tiny crevasses that are notoriously found in attics.
Blown-in insulation can be made from a variety of different materials, the two most common being fiberglass and cellulose, which is plant fiber. It is easier to install and also makes the home more efficient because instead of being rolled in, it is blown in and is able to get to every tiny crevasse inside the attic. It will also last longer.
“Over time insulation will settle. When blown-in insulation is first installed it has a settling point, if you install 15-inches it will settle down to 12. But once it reaches 12 inches, it will stay that way. The only time there are issues with blown-in insulation losing its efficiency is if the house has rodent or pest problems,” said Yancey. “And batt insulation will shrink over time and will lose its efficiency altogether if not reapplied.”
Adding extra insulation can help make your home more energy efficient, but according to Yancey there are two other things that should be done if you want to start seeing a difference in the price of your monthly bills.
“I’d recommend having an attic evaluation. We go in and check the attic insulation, the ventilation, and the radiant barrier and give your home a grade based on HUD recommendations,” said Yancey. “These are things that can bring the efficiency of your attic up, and will lower your energy bill. If you do all three things properly you can save up to 30% on your bill and extend the life of your HVAC system because it won’t have to work as hard to heat and cool your home.”
Sounds pretty good, right? Who doesn’t want to save money on bills, especially during the holidays when every penny counts! If you think your home isn’t running as efficient as it could be, or have any questions or concerns regarding your attic insulation call the expert HVAC technicians at John Moore Services. We can be there the same day and will figure out what parts of your home can be improved in order to lower your monthly bills. Give us a call!