With utility rates continuing to increase, energy efficient insulation is finding its place in more homes. From new construction to the upgrading of older homes, power conservation is at the forefront of construction and remodeling goals. The homeowner and the environment benefit greatly from the installation of materials such as energy efficient insulation. While a number of factors should be considered when selecting the optimum material, the lasting result will be worth the initial effort and investment.
Depending upon the location's climate, the presence of insulation serves many purposes. Its most fundamental job is to decrease the amount of conductive heat flow allowed through. The higher temperatures flow towards the cooler air to the point of equality. Therefore, when a home utilizes their heating unit to warm the interior the warm air is automatically attracted towards unheated locations such as garages, attics, and basements. It may also find its way through exterior walls to the outside. When loss occurs, the heating unit must work harder to maintain the desired temperature. During summer months this distribution of air works in reverse with the heat ventilating inward and an increased need for air conditioning use. The R-value of the material signifies the level of defense it provides against conductive heat flow. The rating is based upon the thickness, density, type of material, and even where it is to be placed. The higher the R-value the more effective the barrier will be. A knowledgeable professional will consider the geographic area of the structure, its climate, and the heating and cooling unit that it will accompany prior to choosing the ideal energy efficient insulation for the property.
While some homeowners opt to upgrade their existing structure with this cost effective material, it is ideal for installation to occur when the home is constructed in order to ensure lower utility bills in the future. It is at this point in the construction process where a choice is made on whether a regular barrier or energy efficient insulation will be used. While a wall with regular material has a 3% rate of air loss and R-value of 0.5 to 2.0, the heat conserving option has a 0% rate of loss and an R-value in the 2.0 to 2.5 range. According to the Department of Energy, this results in a 30% higher level of effectiveness.
A wall with standard grade material has it installed within the frame and drywall. Over time this may lose its volume and lead to less resistance. When a more effective material is used it consists of a lightweight wall sheath with a foam interior. The depth of foam has a greater R-value to provide financial savings and comfort for those inside. Material built into the wall such as concrete forms and blocks are another effective option. Being as it is built inside the wall structure there is minimal chance of air seepage in and out of the home. In a pre-existing home there are options such as the blanket, batt, or loose-fill which is typically blown into large areas such as attics. When paired with the sealing of any openings around windows, doors, and crawlspaces, energy efficient insulation will help with interior temperature control and protect power resources.
Not only will the installation of such material pay for itself over time, there are tax credits available to offset the initial expense. As of 2011 this incentive was up to 10% of the total installation cost. Other incentives may be available at the state level as well. The cost reductions allow the material to provide financial savings in a shorter period of time.