Just like a winter coat, home insulation helps to keep us warm in the chilly months by keeping warm air inside our homes, and cold air outside. It also helps to keep us cool in the summer, prevents mold growth, and helps to lower our energy bills. While most homeowners know the purpose of insulation, many of them may not know how it works, or what type of insulation is best for their home. Read on to get the answers to these questions and more.
How Does Home Insulation Work?
Insulation works by keeping indoor air from escaping from your home, and keeping outdoor air from entering it. Pockets of air become trapped in the insulation, which slows down the heat transfer process – this helps keep our homes warm in winter, and cool in summer.
How is Insulation Rated?
Insulation is rated based on a system called the “R-value.” This refers to the insulation’s capacity to resist heat transfer – the higher the insulation’s R-value, the more effective it is. The R-value of most commercially available insulation is between R3 per inch to R6 per inch.
What are the Different Types of Insulation?
When most people think of “insulation,” their minds often automatically go to the Fibreglass variety – the pink fluffy stuff that’s common in urban dwellings. However, this isn’t the only type of insulation that’s available – take a look at all the various types below:
- Fibreglass: this most common type of insulation is usually comes in batts, and is available at most home improvement stores. It has an R-value of 3.0 to 3.7 per inch, and is easy to install.
- Rigid foam: this type of insulation is used on the shell of your house, under the siding, and comes in expanded polystyrene (EPS) or extruded polystyrene (XPS, which has an R-value of 4.5 to 5.0 per inch.)
- Spray foam: this insulation type has gained in popularity in recent years, and comes in two varieties: open-cell polyurethane (low density) and closed cell polyurethane (higher density.) Resistant to mold, and popular for exterior walls and attics, it offers the highest R-value (5.5 to 6.0 per inch.)
- Cellulose: mostly installed in attics, this type of insulation is loose-fill, but is denser than the loose-fill varieties of fibreglass or mineral fibre.
- Mineral fibre: with an R-value of 2.8 to 3.7 per inch, mineral fibre is similar to fibreglass – it comes in batts, is easy to install, and can be purchased at most home improvement stores.
Which Type of Insulation is Right For My Home?
Choosing the right type of insulation for your home depends on which area you will be insulating. Loose fill insulation – the type that comes in bags, and is sprayed into place – works best for attics that have many obstructions and irregular joist spacing, attics with limited headroom, or those with insulation that needs to be topped.
Insulation that comes in batts is best suited for attics that have fewer obstructions, with standard joint spacing, and plenty of headroom. This type is better suited to spaces that are not already insulated.
Can I Install Insulation Myself?
Yes, you can – depending on the type of insulation you choose!
Fibreglass insulation, the most common type of insulation used in modern homes, can be installed using the do-it-yourself route. However, this only applies to fibreglass that comes in batts – if you choose loose-fill fibreglass, then the safest option is to leave its installation to the pros.
Similarly, loose-fill mineral fibre should be installed by professionals as well, while mineral fibre in batts can be installed by homeowners. Finally, cellulose insulation should be installed by a professional, and while spray foam does come in DIY kits, it’s best to leave this one to the pros too.
Once you’ve chosen your insulation of choice, it’s time begin your DIY project! Use our energy-conserving attic and roof insulation how-to guide to make your insulation installation a breeze so that you can help keep your home comfortable and energy-efficient this winter.