If you are a homeowner who’s concerned about the continuously rising costs of energy, you are not alone. According to a recent survey conducted by the National Mining Association (NMA), nearly 9 in 10 Americans feel the same way, which is unsurprising given the current economic condition brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic..
While you have no control over energy prices, there are measures you can take to lower your electric bill. These include adopting best practices in saving energy, choosing energy-efficient appliances, relying on passive heating and ventilation, installing renewable energy solutions, and installing insulation in your home. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that homeowners can enjoy as much as 15 percent savings on heating and cooling costs simply by insulating and air sealing their homes.
To enjoy the energy-saving benefit of insulation, you must use the right type of insulation in the various areas of your house and install them properly. Otherwise, you will not only waste money but you also won’t get the full benefits of making your home more energy-efficient.
Before starting your insulation project, arm yourself with information on how to add insulation properly. Keep in mind that although the job may seem simple in theory, it does require patience and practical know-how. More importantly, make sure to avoid the following home insulation mistakes that could ruin your project:
Removing the Insulation Facing
Faced insulation products have “facing” or backing attached to the surface of the insulation material. Besides protecting the insulation and making installation easier by holding the material together, the insulation facing also serves as a vapor barrier to prevent moisture intrusion into the space being insulated. Unfortunately, some people remove the insulation facing during installation despite its intended benefits.
Make sure that you do not commit the same error. When you remove the facing, you are essentially getting rid of your insulation’s moisture barrier and compromising the integrity of your homeg. Without the insulation facing, moisture would most likely penetrate and collect in your wall, ceilings, and floors, increasing the likelihood of mold growth and wood rot.
Pulling Out Old Insulation Carelessly
Many homeowners who carry out insulation projects begin by pulling out old insulation without checking its condition. That is a big no-no if you do not want to waste serious dollars. In many cases, it is better to just add a layer of new insulation over the old one to save time, money, and energy.
It is important to note that the option above only makes sense if the only issue with your old insulation is age and a little wear and tear. If it is wet and moldy, then you have no choice but to pull out everything and start anew. However, it is very important to have a professional contractor inspect your home first, especially if it is an old structure. If your house’s old insulation contains asbestos, which is common in older properties, you certainly wouldn’t want to disturb this dangerous carcinogenic substance without proper protection.
Leaving Lots of Gaps
Another common mistake by people who do the insulation themselves is not doing a thorough job. They fail to inspect their work after installation and leave tons of gaps that compromise energy-efficiency and lead to more problems.
Having numerous gaps in your insulation can cause air and moisture to leak between the outdoors and the indoors, and between indoor spaces.. Make sure to inspect your work once you are through to check for gaps. If there are any, you should use foam insulation or caulk to fill small openings and cracks. If the gaps or spaces cannot be secured by batted insulation, try using foam or blown-in loose fill insulation to address the issue.
Insulating Close to Recessed Light Fixtures
Some insulation materials (like cellulose) are combustible, while others (like fiberglass and mineral wool) are less so. Although they are rare, insulation fires happen because the installer added insulation very close to recessed light fixtures. Remember that lamps tend to generate a lot of heat.
To insulate safely, check the lighting fixture for insulation contact (IC) rating. If the fixture is IC-rated, then you can install insulation close to the light source. But, if the lighting is unrated, you better make sure that the insulating material is at least 3 inches away from the recessed light fixture.
Layering Faced Insulation
Since adding new insulation over existing layers is the general rule, many people who install home insulation make the mistake of using faced insulation over older faced insulation. Make sure that you don’t make the same mistake by installing only unfaced batt or roll insulation over older faced insulation.
When you use faced insulation products to layer over older faced insulation, you are essentially helping trap moisture between two layers of moisture barriers. Note that moisture intrusion can damage insulation material and stimulate the development of molds and mildew.
Failing to Consider the Insulation’s R-Value
While R-value or the resistance to heat transfer should be the first consideration when buying insulation, some homeowners fail to consider it. They do not realize that it is essentially the measure of the insulation product’s effectiveness. The higher the R-value, the higher the thermal resistance and insulating capacity.
If you want to be successful in insulating your home, you should start by learning everything you can about the insulating product’s R-value. Consider your location’s climate, the capacity of your heating and cooling systems, and the areas of your home that you plan to insulate when determining the R-values you need. Click here to see the Department of Energy’s recommended R-values for different regions in the country.
Home insulation requires precision and thoughtfulness. It is not a project that you can just do haphazardly. Take your time, consider the information shared above, and educate yourself further to avoid making mistakes. As you try to learn the process, you may want to check out Pacific Insulation Supply’s insulation guide for homeowners for more information on how you can do the job right.