Insulation – Why buy something and throw part of it away

Would you buy a Soda Pop and poor part of it down the drain? Well why would anybody buy energy and cast it into the open air? It is dumb but hundreds of millions of Americans do it every year. There are some experts who argue that we can’t make our appliances or buildings with too much insulation or too “tight” because we have got to breathe. I am not one of those. I believe that air quality can be handled through a heat exchanger:

http://www.lennox.com/badair/beat//ventilation.asp

Many people want to start the discussion there however and I have learned to stop that, by simply saying, “how much insulation do you have in your house”, because no one has enough. At any rate here is what you can get from the Feds;

(while I am thinking about it you can get rebates at the State and local level. I may discuss some of that but geeze there are 50 states and probably 7,000 counties in the US. Most of that info you WILL have to check on your own)

http://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?c=products.pr_tax_credits#c2

Insulation Insulation Meets 2009 IECC & Amendments 30% of cost, up to $1,5002 For insulation to qualify, its primary purpose must be to insulate (example: insulated siding does not qualify).Must be expected to last 5 years OR have a 2 year warrantyCheck to see if you have Home Performance with ENERGY STAR in your areas. Adding insulation to your home is covered.

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It is pretty straight forward:

Introduction

Why Insulate Your House?Heating and cooling account for 50 to 70% of the energy used in the average American home. Inadequate insulation and air leakage are leading causes of energy waste in most homes. Insulation:

  • saves money and our nation’s limited energy resources
  • makes your house more comfortable by helping to maintain a uniform temperature throughout the house, and
  • makes walls, ceilings, and floors warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer.

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 saving energy will be even more important as utility rates go up.

This fact sheet will help you to understand how insulation works, what different types of insulation are available, and how much insulation makes sense for your climate. There are many other things you can do to conserve energy in your home as well. The Department of Energy offers many web sites to help you save energy by sealing air leaks, selecting more energy-efficient appliances, etc.

How Insulation Works Heat flows naturally from a warmer to a cooler space. In winter, the heat moves directly from all heated living spaces to the outdoors and to adjacent unheated attics, garages, and basements – wherever there is a difference in temperature. During the summer, heat moves from outdoors to the house interior. To maintain comfort, the heat lost in winter must be replaced by your heating system and the heat gained in summer must be removed by your air conditioner. Insulating ceilings, walls, and floors decreases the heating or cooling needed by providing an effective resistance to the flow of heat.
Batts, blankets, loose fill, and low-density foams all work by limiting air movement. (These products may be more familiarly called fiberglass, cellulose, polyicynene, and expanded polystyrene.) The still air is an effective insulator because it eliminates convection and has low conduction. Some foams, such as polyisocyanurate, polyurethane, and extruded polystyrene, are filled with special gases that provide additional resistance to heat flow.Reflective insulation works by reducing the amount of energy that travels in the form of radiation. Some forms of reflective insulation also divide a space up into small regions to reduce air movement, or convection, but not to the same extent as batts, blankets, loose-fill, and foam.

Next Section – Which Kind of Insulation is Best?

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But there is a dizzying array of products:

The different forms of insulation can be used together. For example, you can add batt or roll insulation over loose-fill insulation, or vice-versa. Usually, material of higher density (weight per unit volume) should not be placed on top of lower density insulation that is easily compressed. Doing so will reduce the thickness of the material underneath and thereby lower its R-value. There is one exception to this general rule: When attic temperatures drop below 0?F, some low-density, fiberglass, loose-fill insulation installations may allow air to circulate between the top of your ceiling and the attic, decreasing the effectiveness of the insulation. You can eliminate this air circulation by covering the low-density, loose-fill insulation with a blanket insulation product or with a higher density loose-fill insulation.

Blankets, in the form of batts or rolls, are flexible products made from mineral fibers, including fiberglass or rock wool. They are available in widths suited to standard spacings of wall studs and attic or floor joists. They must be hand-cut and trimmed to fit wherever the joist spacing is non-standard (such as near windows, doors, or corners), or where there are obstructions in the walls (such as wires, electrical outlet boxes, or pipes). Batts can be installed by homeowners or professionals. They are available with or without vapor-retarder facings. Batts with a special flame-resistant facing are available in various widths for basement walls where the insulation will be left exposed.
Blown-in loose-fill insulation includes cellulose, fiberglass, or rock wool in the form of loose fibers or fiber pellets that are blown using pneumatic equipment, usually by professional installers. This form of insulation can be used in wall cavities. It is also appropriate for unfinished attic floors, for irregularly shaped areas, and for filling in around obstructions.
In the open wall cavities of a new house, cellulose and fiberglass fibers can also be sprayed after mixing the fibers with an adhesive or foam to make them resistant to settling.
Foam insulation can be applied by a professional using special equipment to meter, mix, and spray the foam into place. Polyisocyanurate and polyurethane foam insulation can be produced in two forms: open-cell and closed-cell. In general, open-celled foam allows water vapor to move through the material more easily than closed-cell foam. However, open-celled foams usually have a lower R-value for a given thickness compared to closed-cell foams. So, some of the closed-cell foams are able to provide a greater R-value where space is limited.
Rigid insulation is made from fibrous materials or plastic foams and is produced in board-like forms and molded pipe coverings. These provide full coverage with few heat loss paths and are often able to provide a greater R-value where space is limited. Such boards may be faced with a reflective foil that reduces heat flow when next to an air space. Rigid insulation is often used for foundations and as an insulative wall sheathing.
Reflective insulation systems are fabricated from aluminum foils with a variety of backings such as kraft paper, plastic film, polyethylene bubbles, or cardboard. The resistance to heat flow depends on the heat flow direction, and this type of insulation is most effective in reducing downward heat flow. Reflective systems are typically located between roof rafters, floor joists, or wall studs. If a single reflective surface is used alone and faces an open space, such as an attic, it is called a radiant barrier.Radiant barriers are installed in buildings to reduce summer heat gain and winter heat loss. In new buildings, you can select foil-faced wood products for your roof sheathing (installed with the foil facing down into the attic) or other locations to provide the radiant barrier as an integral part of the structure. For existing buildings, the radiant barrier is typically fastened across the bottom of joists, as shown in this drawing. All radiant barriers must have a low emittance (0.1 or less) and high reflectance (0.9 or more).

Previous Section – Introduction
Next Section – Insulating a New House

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People used to ask me if I had a preference and for the longest time I did. Now I just say get the most R’s for the lowest price. There is a nice guy from Pawnee, Kent Olson, that sells a hi tech version:

http://www.pawnee-lumber.com/

ESP Low-E

http://www.low-e.com/

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