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Insulating Old Homes
 

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Insulating Old Homes
Written by Elizabeth Wood
Editor In Chief, United Home Improvement


Homeowners everywhere are trying to discover ways to lower their monthly energy bills. Families usually resort to making sure lights and appliances are turned off when they are not being used, and that the thermostat is not being abused. What they don't know is that an estimated 60% of energy is used by heating and cooling.

By investing in insulation, homeowners can save the amount of money needed to pay for the cost of installation and continue to save afterwards. Also, insulation will bring a greater sense of comfort to a home by trapping heat in the winter and cold air in the summer.

Poor insulation and air leakage are the top two reasons for energy waste. Even the newest of homes can benefit from insulation. For older homes, areas that require major insulation attention include attics, basement walls and ceilings, unheated floor spaces, exterior walls and crawl spaces.

Before you decide to insulate these areas, certain elements must be carefully examined. Insulation will not be as effective until you control all of your homes air leaks. Many of these leaks exist within the attic. However, an air leak can exist in any opening between your walls and floors.

Ventilation is another important factor to consider before insulating. Ventilation is essential because it relates to moisture control and indoor air pollution. A professional insulation contractor can assist you in locating some of these hard to find air leaks and review your ventilation arrangement.

Before purchasing your insulation, consider elements such as climate, your budget, and the design of your house before selecting insulation. Also, keep in mind that insulation is determined by its R-value. R-value measures thermal resistance. It is important to know that the thicker the insulation is, the higher the R-value. However, R-value is also determined by material and weight.

Overall, it is the space requiring the insulation that determines the type of insulation needed. Forms of insulation include loose-fill, batts or blankets, rigid foam and reflective insulation systems. Insulation options include Fiberglass-based blow-in insulation, Cellulose insulation, and Cementitious foam.

Depending on what type of insulation you purchase, a professional insulation contractor may be required. There are certain types that can be installed alone. If you have decided to install the insulation yourself, make sure to take precautions.

Insulation, particularly fiberglass, can be harmful if is breathed in and may irritate skin. For these reasons it is important to use rubber gloves, wear loose long-sleeved shirts and seal gaps between shirts and gloves. All skin must be covered! This especially includes your face and eyes. Make sure to wear a particle mask and something over your head. If you are working in the attic, be careful not to fall through dry wall. Placing plywood planks across the floor will assist you in moving around more smoothly.

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