High levels of thermal insulation can save you hundreds of dollars per year.
Home insulation is a great investment and, ultimately, a critical factor to prevent climate change.
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In cold climates, consider very high levels of insulation all over the envelope of the house. The super-insulation approach is critical in cold climates..
In other climates consider very high levels of attic or roof insulation and moderate or high levels of wall and floor insulation. Underfloor insulation may not be advantageous in hot climates..
Which Insulation Materials Should you Use?
There are many insulation materials.
Fiberglass, cellulose, mineral wool and plastic foams such as expanded and extruded polyethylene, polyurethane sprays and rigid polysocyanurate are between the most important.
Insulation materials are not all alike. High dense rigid mineral wool, for instance, is a much better choice than fiberglass batts.
Insulation materials have different ratings (R-values) and choice depends largely on issues such as where they are going to be installed (open cavities, close cavities, surface of the walls, attics…), price, available space or moisture issues.
Insulation is Rated in R-Values and U-values
The insulation value of the different insulation materials varies and is measured by its R-value (thermal resistance) or its U-value (the inverse of the R-value).
A poor installation of the materials and thermal bridging can sharply reduce the effectiveness of the insulation.
The ideal insulation levels vary with the climate and the part of the house - attics, walls, floors and slabs.
Keep in mind: the amounts required by codes fall very short of the best.
Recommended Levels of Insulation
Exterior Wall Insulation
Retrofit Cavity Wall Insulation
Roof and Ceiling Insulation
Flat and Cathedral Ceiling Insulation
Attic Knee Wall Insulation
How To Know Existing Insulation Levels?
How to know the insulation levels of your walls, or attics?
Energy audits can give you a very accurate answer, but you may also carry out some simple inspections.
Insulate the Whole Envelope of the House
Homes should be insulated all over their envelope (the red line, in the image at left) without gaps or interruptions.
Thermal bridging (image at right) should be avoided, by covering all possible bridges.
Framing materials can easily become conduits through which the heat escapes or enters.
See: Thermal bridging
Floor & Slab Insulation
Floor insulation may not be advantageous in hot tropical climates. But in mixed and cold climates, underfloor insulation is also important.
Pipes, Ducts and Tank Insulation
Ducts running in garages, basements, crawl-spaces and attics should be carefully insulated (and sealed).
Insulation & Environment
From an energy-efficiency and environmental standpoint energy conservation is at least as important as energy generation.
In this sense, insulating our homes is as important as solar photovoltaics and wind and other green sources of energy.
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