Remodeling is a great time to add extra insulation. Learn about your options to make your house more comfortable and lower heating and cooling costs.
You can't see insulation once it's installed, but you'll know it's there. Adding several hundred dollars worth of insulation can reduce your heating and cooling bill 10 to 30 percent. Attic insulation is a necessity—the attic is the primary location for insulation, and the easiest place to install it. When your home is well insulated, you can have a smaller HVAC system.
Insulation is designed to provide resistance to heat flow, but the amount and type of insulation you need depends on your house and climate. This resistance is measured by R-values; higher R-values equal higher resistance to heat flow. Local building codes suggest the minimum amount of insulation, but for the highest energy efficiency, you'll want to add even more. The Department of Energy offers a ZIP code insulation tool on their web site, www.eere.energy.gov, to help you determine the optimal amount of insulation for your area.
Some products, such as fiberglass batts, are better for additions or extensive remodeling projects where you'll have access to wall cavities, while other types, such as blown-in cellulose or spray-in foam, can be added to finished walls relatively easily. Rigid foam boards are often added to the exterior of a building (under weatherproof facing), often in conjunction with another type of insulation.
Here's a look at a few of the most common types of insulation and the advantages and disadvantages of each. We provide an idea about pricing here, but be aware that prices vary greatly depending on application and market price.
R-Value: 3.2 to 4.3 per inch of thickness
R-Value: 3.4 to 6.5 per inch of thickness
R-Value: 3.9 to 6.5 per inch of thickness
R-Value: 3.4 to 3.7 per inch of thickness