Why Insulate? Heat Loss and Cooling Losses in Homes

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Why is Home Insulation so important?

North American homes use most of their energy in heating and cooling. As you know, heat tends to flow to the colder air outside during winter with the opposite happening in summer: hot summer air slips in to steal some air conditioning energy. Today, custom-designed homes are unnecessary for achieving satisfactory levels of energy-efficiency. Modern builders confirm that energy-efficient homes are as good as those using granite countertops and hardwood floors. Homeowners can seek out certified builders with R-2000 or consider using other high-quality construction methods.

Heat Loss and Insulation

How heat is lost or gained in a home depends on the amount and quality of insulation in the walls, ceilings and basement. Heat loss through doors and windows, joint sealing and cavity holes is less significant. Thus, the primary consideration in an energy-efficient design for a home is proper construction to contain air leakage with sufficient levels of insulation. There are minimum standards which all buildings must adhere to, set by national and local building codes. These assist in future upgrades and pay dividends when the standards are followed. As the prices of fossil fuels keep rising due to increasing scarcity and political issues, it is advantageous to consider implementing upgrades which safeguard you against rising energy prices. 

Insulation works to keep your home cool in summer as well as warm in winterInsulation prevents heat from being transferred into or out of the house if it is placed in the walls and ceilings, in the same way that electrical energy is prevented from flowing in non-conductive materials. Better quality, thicker insulation makes it harder for heat to flow. Most homeowners assume that most heat loss will be experienced through the ceilings of a house because hot air rises, but this is not necessarily so: heat tends to flow to colder areas from warmer ones, in any direction. 

With the expected continued increase in the price of heating fuel, every effort taken now to improve your home’s energy efficiency will see more savings and benefits for you in the longer term. Traditionally, the last generation’s homes were built without considering fuel costs - they were simple constructions of 2’ x 4‘ lumber (63 x 125 mm) with very little insulation and no air or wind barriers. Fuel costs were around $0.25 per gallon, so no one was particularly worried.

But things have changed. Oil prices have risen to ten times that price and no homeowner can afford to waste money on heat loss due to poor home design or construction. As no one can predict the future, one can only assume that energy prices will continue to rise at a greater speed in years to come. Current and future generations have to consider energy supply, security, environmental issues and even hostile foreign governments’ effects on energy costs. 

Moisture Barriers

You can apply a 6-mil-thick (6/1000 inches or 0.006 inch) polyethylene plastic vapor barrier to wall structures on the insulation’s warm side. This serves to surround the house’s interior completely and should be sealed well at the overlapped edges and joints. When this barrier is installed during construction, it should be carefully placed and