Save money! Save energy!
One of the most effective ways to save on heating energy costs in your home, is by installing thermal insulation.
Acoustic insulation is used for cutting down sound... in and out!
Insulation- including ceiling insulation, wall insulation and floor insulation- is best undertaken when building a house, or during renovations, but at least ceiling insulation can usually be added at whatever stage you decide. In certain types of construction (where there is a gap between inner and outer walls) wall insulation can also be added at a later date, usually in a liquid form, pumped in, which solidifies. However, this is difficult and very expensive!
Your insulation must also comply with fire safety standards.
If you have asthma or allergy sufferers in your home, you might like to consider the low allergen insulation products available.
If you need to insulate for sound as well as temperature you can use acoustic insulation, which is thicker and denser... the more thick and dense it is, the more soundproof it will be. Millions of interconnected air pockets absorb sound. Acoustic insulation is used to lessen transfer of sound from outside, from inside, or from an upper level to a lower level living area.
Cost is often another big factor in making your choice. Types and brands of insulation vary, usually with higher R-value insulations having a higher initial cost, but a much greater long term saving in terms of energy costs. In some states, rebates are available for insulation.
Naturally DIY installation is much cheaper than paying for it to be done. Always make sure you know exactly how the material should be installed, as mistakes can dramatically lower its efficiency and even cause fire hazards.
DIY is only suited to certain kinds of insulation (in general you can DIY batts but loose fill needs a professional) and areas, and does carry certain safety issues you need to cater for. Protective wear such as a dust mask, goggles, gloves, long-sleeved shirt and fully enclosed shoes should be worn when installing insulation. Otherwise, severe skin irritation and even respiratory irritation can occur. Rockwool and glass wool are of particular irritant concern. Even if the actual insulation type does not produce these results, the dusty roof space may still do so.
If you are environmentally aware, recycled insulation (made from recycled glass or PET bottles) is available.
And by insulating you are helping both the environment and your own expenditure. Energy use costs for heating/cooling are cut by up to 50%! If you use the correct level of insulation you can potentially save up to 20-30% on heating and cooling costs if ceilings are insulated and a further 15-20% if external walls are also insulated.
Types of Insulation:
This is made from a large percentage of recycled glass. These are relatively inexpensive, easy to cut and can be DIY installed. Good fire resistance. Can be an irritant, so wear appropriate gear.
More expensive than glass wool but has superior sound insulation. Can easily DIY install. Can also be an irritant.
Available as batts, blankets and loose fill. Usually more expensive and must be treated to resist insect infestation. Check that it has passed stringent fire resistance tests (preferably British Standard 5803 part 4) as Choice tests done on some wool batts have revealed failure to fire resistance.
This is made from pulverised recycled paper. It is a loose fill and is not suited to DIY installation. It is cheap to buy, but can only be used in ceiling areas. It is especially handy when access to the area is awkward. As it can be dusty you will need barriers to stop it entering your home through vents and exhaust fans. It can also be sprayed with a sealer. Be aware that cellulose fibre insulation may settle over time, so confirm with the installer that it has been installed to provide the stated R-value in the long term. Also, make sure that it has had fireproof and insect proof treatment.
Extruded Polystyrene or Expanded Polystyrene Boards
Very useful if space is limited, but must be installed between non-combustible surfaces like reflective foil, bricks or plasterboard.
A semi-rigid spray-applied insulation system which is made up of microscopic cells that simultaneously insulates and provides an air-seal in wall, floor and ceiling cavities, applied as a liquid which expands into a foam, curing in just seconds. It creates a barrier which stops temperature leakage, insulates both thermally and acoustically, and stops irritants from entering the home. Does not settle or disintegrate. Definitely not DIY!
Another excellent recycled resource made from Pet bottles, which can be made into batts or blankets. Does not create dust or irritation.
Reflective Foils (Silver Batts)
These can be installed in the roof, walls and under floor and can cut out up to 95% of radiant heat. May be DIY installed, but make sure you are clear on the right procedure.
Points To Consider
• Do you want to DIY or have it installed professionally?
• If DIY you will need to obtain safety wear.
• What kind of insulation suits your needs?
• Who supplies it? Comparisons?
• Does it meet all safety requirements?
• What R-value do you need?
• How much do you need?- don't cut corners or you will considerably lessen its effectiveness.
• Are you planning to do only roof insulation or walls and floors as well?
• You may need to insulate certain areas of your roof differently- ie some areas may need higher level protection.
• Check your roof for potential leaks and repair prior to insulating.
• Check with an electrician as to how you need to handle insulation near your wiring- can it be insulated over or do you need to work around it?
A well thought out home insulation project can save you many hassles and disappointments, so make a clear plan of action. Then you can enjoy the comfort and savings of a well insulated home for years to come.