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home insulation


Examples of Where to Insulate

Types of Insulation--Basic Forms

How Does Insulation Work for You?

Building a New House? Some Things You Should Know

Does Your Home Need More Insulation?

Determining the R-Value You Need for an Existing House

Making Your Decision





Why You Need Our Services
Residential, Commercial, and Energy Conservation Insulation

Heating and cooling ("space conditioning") account for 50 to 70% of the energy used in the average American home. About 20% goes for heating water. On the other hand, lighting and appliances and everything else account for only 10 to 30% of the energy used in most residences. It makes good sense to turn lights and appliances off when they are not needed, and you'll save even more on your energy costs if your reduce the amount of energy needed for heating and cooling.

Unless your home was constructed with special attention to energy efficiency, adding insulation will probably reduce your utility bills. Much of the existing housing stock in the United States is not insulated to the best level. Older homes are likely to use more energy than newer homes, leading to very high heating and air-conditioning bills. Even if you own a new home, adding insulation may save enough money in reduced utility bills to pay for itself within a few years, continue to save you money for as long as you own the home, and increase the resale value of your house.

It is most important to:

  • Insulate your attic to the recommended level, including the attic door, or hatch cover.
  • Provide the recommended level of insulation under floors above unheated spaces, around walls in a heated basement or unventilated crawl space, and on the edges of slabs-on-grade.
  • Use the recommended levels of insulation for exterior walls for new house construction. When remodeling or re-siding your house, consider using the levels recommended for new construction in your existing walls.

The Crucial Role of Thermal Insulation

Inadequate insulation and air leakage are leading causes of energy waste in most homes. Insulation saves money and our nation's limited energy resources. It can also make your house more comfortable by helping to maintain a uniform temperature throughout the house. Walls, ceilings, and floors will be warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer. Insulation can also act as a sound absorber or barrier, keeping noise levels down.

It is possible to add insulation to almost any house. You may be able to do the job yourself if the structural framing is accessible--for instance, in unfinished attics or under the floor over an unheated space. Or, you may prefer to hire an insulation contractor. In either case, it is important to choose and install the insulation correctly.

The amount of energy you conserve will depend on several factors: your local climate; the size, shape, and construction of your house; the living habits of your family; the type and efficiency of the heating and cooling systems; and the fuel you use. Once the energy savings have paid for the installation cost, energy conserved is money saved--and the annual savings will increase if utility rates go up.

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Examples of Where to Insulate

Residential, Commercial, and Energy Conservation Insulation

  1. In unfinished attic spaces, insulate between and over the floor joists to seal off living spaces below.*
    1A attic access door
  2. In finished attic rooms with or without dormer, insulate ...
    2A between the studs of "knee" walls;
    2B between the studs and rafters of exterior walls and roof;
    2C ceilings with cold spaces above;
    2D extend insulation into joist space to reduce air flows.
  3. All exterior walls, including ...
    3A walls between living spaces and unheated garages, shed roofs, or storage areas;
    3B foundation walls above ground level; 3C foundation walls in heated basements, full wall either interior or exterior.
  4. Floors above cold spaces, such as vented craw spaces and unheated garages. Also insulate ...
    4A any portion of the floor in a room that is cantilevered beyond the exterior wall below;
    4B slab floors built directly on the ground;**
    4C as an alternative to floor insulation, foundation walls of unvented crawl spaces;
    4D extend insulation into joist space to reduce air flows.
  5. Band joists.
  6. Replacement or storm windows and caulk and seal around all windows and doors.

*Well-insulated attics, crawl spaces, storage areas, and other enclosed cavities should be ventilated to prevent excess moisture build-up.

**For new construction, slab on grade insulation should be installed to the extent required by building codes, or greater.

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Types of Insulation--Basic Forms

Form Method of Installation Where Applicable Advantages
Blankets: Batts or Rolls
  • Fiber glass
  • Rock wool
Fitted between studs, joists and beams All unfinished walls, floors and ceilings Do-it-yourself

Suited for standard stud and joist spacing, which is relatively free from obstructions

Loose-Fill (blown-in) or Spray-applied
  • Rock wool
  • Fiber glass
  • Cellulose
  • Polyurethane foam
Blown into place or spray applied by special equipment Enclosed existing wall cavities or open new wall cavities

Unfinished attic floors and hard to reach places

Commonly used insulation for retrofits (adding insulation to existing finished areas)

Good for irregularly shaped areas and around obstructions

Rigid Insulation
  • Extruded polystyrene foam (XPS)
  • Expanded polystyrene foam (EPS or beadboard)
  • Polyurethane foam
  • Polyisocyanurate foam
Interior applications: Must be covered with 1/2-inch gypsum board or other building-code approved material for fire safety

Exterior applications: Must be covered with weather-proof facing

Basement walls

Exterior walls under finishing (Some foam boards include a foil facing which will act as a vapor retarder. Please read the discussion about where to place, or not to place, a vapor retarder)

Unvented low slope roofs

High insulating value for relatively little thickness

Can block thermal short circuits when installed continuously over frames or joists.

Reflective Systems
  • Foil-faced paper
  • Foil-faced polyethylene bubbles
  • Foil-faced plastic film
  • Foil-faced cardboard
Foils, films, or papers: Fitted between wood-frame studs joists, and beams Unfinished ceilings, walls, and floors Do-it-yourself

All suitable for framing at standard spacing. Bubble-form suitable if framing is irregular or if obstructions are present

Effectiveness depends on spacing and heat flow direction

Loose-Fill (poured in)
Vermiculite or Perlite
not currently used for home insulation, but may be found in older homes not currently used for home insulation, but may be found in older homes not currently used for home insulation, but may be found in older homes

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Camano Island, & South Whatcom County

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