for Energy Efficiency
Technology Snapshot & Benefits:
You can save a lot of money by installing or improving insulation. Insulation
retards the flow of heat and is one of the most cost-effective investments that
you can make. The effectiveness of insulation is measured by its tested
resistance to heat flow and is known by its "R" value. The greater the "R"
value, the greater the effectiveness. One of the easiest and most effective
places to install insulation is in the attic, since heat rises from the heated
rooms below. Insulation comes in many different forms including the familiar
fiberglass, Styrofoam, vermiculite, pouring wool, cellulose materials such as
shredded newspaper, and numerous "foamed-in-place" types. Particularly within
the fiberglass and rigid foamed board types, there are a variety of choices of
heat-reflective coatings. Properly installed insulation always improves comfort
and reduces heating and cooling costs.
Click here to find
out what R-value insulation you need.
Estimated Cost Savings:
Heating buildings is one of the largest expenditures of energy in the nation and
one of the greatest opportunities for saving. The average U.S. household spent
more than $2,350 in 1999 for energy: $1,200 for home energy and $1,150 for
motor gasoline to run vehicles. (AEO2001, p.213) Of the $1,200 spent in the home, nearly half is spent for heating and cooling
(AEO2001, p.162) and in
aggregate, amounted to more than $50 billion in 1999. (p.159)
construction, the maximum recommended amounts of insulation yield huge savings
compared to no insulation. For existing buildings, upgrading to the recommended
amount of insulation will save money. The amount of savings vary widely
depending upon your starting point – namely, how much insulation you already
have. See Energy Star's
Insulation Values for Existing Homes for recommended insulating values for walls,
floors, ceilings, and basements.
terms, when you double the R value of your insulation, the heat flow through the
insulated surface will halve. Your bill, however, may not halve because of
other, less well-insulated surfaces in the building.
Typical savings for
retrofit insulation are on the order of 20-30% of your heating bill. For a
monthly heating bill of $200, this can amount to $40-$60 in savings.
A plan will help you with
insulating decisions. In general, you should bring the attic insulation up to
currents standards because it is easy to do so. Wall insulation can be
problematic, as many walls are little more than the width of a 2x4, which limits
the depth of insulation that can be easily installed. Sometimes a second
interior wall can be built which provides a deeper cavity for insulation as well
as providing an easy opportunity to upgrade electrical wiring and new cable and
telephone wiring. This is most economical when done as part of a larger
The amount of insulation that you need varies upon your climate and
exposure to prevailing winds. Northern locations benefit most from insulation
during the heating season; southern locations benefit most during the cooling
Be sure to get bids from two or three (or more) contractors and explore
different methods and types of insulation. Multiple bids will allow you to gain
immediate perspective on the true costs and value of insulation in your area.
Videos On This Topic:
From EcoBroker International:
From Other Sources:
How to Save By Insulating
Your Home (1:56) - The Home Depot -
home can help reduce energy expenditure and save you money on your heating and
cooling bills -- if done properly. In this video from The Home Depot's "Save
Money, Save Energy" series, find out more about how to caulk, seal, and insulate
your home to help save as much as 20% on your energy bills.
Why Should I Insulate My
Home? (1:00) - Johns Manville -
Find out why it is important to insulate your home and the impact it can have on
energy efficiency in this video from Johns Manville.
Where Should I Insulate?
(1:34) - Johns Manville -
Insulating creates a thermal envelope around your living space to help control
comfort and energy usage. In this video, find out what defines the thermal
envelope and where to insulate to ensure that heat loss is properly controlled.
Super-Insulating a Home with Rigid Foam (2:59) - Green Building Advisor -
Rigid foam can be
installed to the exterior of conventionally framed homes to function as an air
barrier, a drainage plane, and insulation all in one. To find out more about
the technology and what to remember when installing rigid foam, watch this video
from Green Building Advisor featuring Gary Bergeron from Synergy Companies
for Home Savings (1:57) - Studio 5 Wellness -
Because of the
numerous types of insulation available today, it can often get confusing when it
comes to choosing what to install in your home. In this video from Studio 5
Wellness, learn a little bit about the fiberglass and cellulose insulation and
how it is important for all homeowners (even those with newer homes) to check
their insulation to make sure their home is performing at its best.
Insulation and Radiant Barriers (5:32) - Association for Better Insulation -
There are several types of insulation that you can install into your home. In
this video, learn about the benefits of Cocoon insulation made from recycled
newspaper and how this product can help make a complete seal of your home.
Information on This Topic:
Department of Energy's Building Technologies Program: Insulation Materials
U.S. Department of Energy's Building Technologies Program: Insulation Sealing
Insulation Values for Existing Homes
for the 21st Century: Wall Insulation
for the 21st Century: Ceilings and Attics
for the 21st Century: Basement Insulation
- Calculating Savings: Adding Insulation
Lawrence Berkeley National
Department of Energy