5 Simple Steps for Insulating Your Home this Fall
Insulating your home is an important item to review each fall to insure you home is operating at the most optimal efficiency. Most of us normally jump to the conclusion that improving the efficiency of our home is expensive and requires big dollars to be spent. Most often it is the least expensive insulating tips that are missed, but yet the yield incredible benefits. It is common for us to walk into million dollar plus homes with the best siding, windows, & doors but they are missing many of the basics, most often it is inadequate depth of blown-in insulation in the attic. This is such a common inefficiency we see in Kansas City homes! Here are the 5 most cost effective insulating items that produce the greatest “bang for your buck” in energy savings.
1. Add Blown-In Insulation to the Energy Star Recommended Depth
Let’s start with the attic insulation. The Department of Energy recommends an attic insulation depth of 15 to 25 inches for the Kansas City area. R-Value is a rating of insulation quality. So, a depth of 15-inches is an R-38 rating. The higher the number the greater amount of insulation benefits. At FreshStart, we provide insulation services at all depth levels requested by the homeowner. However, our customers see the greatest benefits from the higher R-60+ rating that 20 to 25 inches of blown-in insulation provides. Therefore, we recommend the higher end of the Department of Energy’s recommended range. Standard building practices over the last 30 years have used on average only 10 to 12 inches of attic insulation. So the majority of homes in the metro area do not even have the minimum recommendation of 15 inches / R-39 rating. We can simply add any additional depth needed on top of existing insulation that is in good condition. Adding an additional 10 to 15 inches is very inexpensive. Yet, the cost savings are notable. Utility savings pay for the insulation install in six months or less! One of the primary ways in the winter to know that an attic has insufficient insulation is that the snow will quickly melt from the roof. This is caused by heat escaping from the home through the attic. Having greater attic insulation helps tremendously with temperature differences between floors. Frequently homes in our area experience a 5 to 10 degrees difference between lower and upper levels. These temperature variances reduce dramatically with sufficient attic insulation. This will cause the house to feel more even and comfortable. Inferior insulation in your attic causes major heat loss through the roof. Accounting for 40% of your home’s energy loss. Costing you thousands each year in unnecessary heat loss. This heat loss can also cause other issues like ice damming, roof leaks, and even mold damage.
2. Insulating and Sealing Attic Access Points
Attic fans are a common item in our area. However, in the last several years new energy efficiency studies have shown that attic fans actually cost more that not having one at all. Whatever energy savings they produce during the spring and summer months is quickly lost in the winter months due the the lack of insulating factor that causes to much warm air to escape to the attic through the attic fan access point. We highly recommend removing or insulating over existing attic fans. In addition, the attic access panel is an important item to insulate in addition to the blow-in insulation. At Fresh Start we provide our clients with a custom elevated barrier and insulated access panel to create R40+ insulating factor directly above and around the attic access panel.
3. Insulating, Sealing & Cleaning HVAC Vents for Optimal Efficiency
We recommend giving attention to your HVAC vents. Sealing all accessible vent joints, especially around base of the air handler unit. Specialized vent tape can be found at your local hardware store. It is recommended to place one continuous strip around the joint and press firmly to create a strong seal. The joint from the air handler to the vent is the most important to seal thoroughly. A common item we see in our metro area is vents in crawl spaces not insulated and exposed to the outside temperatures. We highly recommend wrapping all exposed vents in crawl spaces. Your HVAC vents are the “life” of your home, literally. Most air contamination comes through the HVAC vents. Many times the vents get clogged with dust and debris. It is often we see construction debris left in the vents even in 30+ year old houses. Dust and debris in your vents restrict airflow and cause your system to have to work harder. Not to mention what you are breathing! A simple vent cleaning can do wonders to “clear the pipes” so to speak and create an increase in airflow which improves the overall efficiency of your home. We recommend vent cleaning services that use negative pressure to thoroughly clean the vents and not just stir things up. Your vent cleaning benefits can last up to 10 years if filters are frequently changes and the system is maintained with bi-annual service.
4. Insulating Rim Joist
With so many of our homes in this area having basements, insulating your home rim joist is a simple and expensive solution to insulating your home even more. The rim joist is the area between the foundation wall and the exterior framing. This gap creates opportunity for airflow to enter the home. Simple insulation process seals this gap and creates a more efficient basement.
5. Insulating Crawl Spaces