To prevent heat from leaving a home in winter and from entering a home in the summer, installing energy efficient insulation is essential. Heat loss occurs in varying degrees in different locations in the home.
Loose-fill insulation can be made from loose fibers, recycled newspapers or rock wool and is blown into wall or ceiling cavities. Loose-fill prevents air infiltration better than batt insulation by filling cracks and crevices, and also provides more effective acoustic insulation.
Batt insulation comes primarily in widths of 16 and 24 inches, and in lengths of 4 and 8 feet or long uncut rolls. It is available as either unfaced or faced with a foil backing which acts as a moisture barrier. Batt insulation is designed to fit snugly in the cavities between studs, joists, and rafters. It is made of mineral fiber or fiberglass, is relatively inexpensive, and is one of the more popular choices among homeowners.
Rigid board insulation comes in flat, rigid sheets and is typically used for below grade foundation walls and for flat, built-up roofing systems. Rigid insulation can be made from expanded polystyrene, cellular glass, or polyurethane and has a higher insulating value per inch of material thickness.
Spray foam insulation can be applied pneumatically onto protrusions and into cavities of any shape and size. It is sprayed on in a liquid form that expands and hardens into a rigid cellular plastic. It is generally more expensive than other types of insulation but has a superior insulating ability.
Spray foam and loose-fill insulation should be applied by experienced professionals, but batt insulation can be installed by the average homeowner. Here are some helpful tips when insulating new walls or retrofitting an existing home with batt insulation.
Keep Skin Protected
Be sure to wear protective gloves and goggles and keep skin covered. The fiberglass material in batt insulation will scatter fine air-borne particles that can irritate the eyes, throat and skin.
Handle with Care
Keep batt insulation protected from water and moisture and take care not to flatten or compress the volume of the fiberglass material. Otherwise, it will adversely affect the material’s insulating ability.
Cut and Install Batt Insulation
Install batts that fit snugly into framing cavities leaving no spaces around the edges. Use a utility knife to cut batts to size and leave an extra ½ inch for a tight fit. Make sure that the entire cavity is filled front to back.
Fill All Gaps and Voids
The perimeter of wall openings is a primary source of heat loss through air infiltration. You can insulate the gaps around doors and windows by purchasing a small can of expanding foam insulation.
If you have questions concerning R-values or what is the proper level of insulation for various parts of your home, your local building supply outlet can assist by providing product information and general technical support.