Smart ways to keep homes warm

Q&A with Johns Manville: DIY Insulation tips for maximizing home energy efficiency

Courtesy of Johns Manville:

As winter weather continues and temperatures continue to fluctuate, don’t just reach for a wool blanket, consider your home’s blanket, too. Creating a proper thermal barrier around a home can increase indoor comfort and energy efficiency, while mitigating high heating bills.

“Many homeowners are constantly looking for ways to increase the comfort level of their home, especially during colder months, when indoor temperatures tend to fluctuate,” said Pete Schacht, Pacific Northwest territory manager at Johns Manville. “There are simple ways to check current insulation levels and smart DIY steps, such as air sealing and adding insulation, homeowners can take to cut energy bills and maximize energy efficiency.”

What’s a simple way to check if existing insulation is up to par?

One area of the home where it’s possible to uncover immediate savings on winter energy bills is the attic. Attic insulation works like a thick winter hat – it traps the heat inside, increasing comfort and efficiency. Use a yard stick to check the depth. The average home needs up to 19 inches of fiberglass attic insulation for maximum energy efficiency. If the insulation is not up to par, insulation batts or rolls can be placed in the attic’s floor joists, on top of any existing insulation. Check out this DIY video for a step-by-step guide to upgrading insulation in the attic.

What are the benefits of updating home insulation?

Besides increasing overall energy efficiency, replacing faulty or old insulation can result in lower heating and cooling bills, rebates, and a cleaner, greener home.

What is the best way to seal air leaks or plug gaps?

The attic is often the biggest culprit of energy drains, so start here when looking for potential air leaks from gaps, ducts, and cracks. Use caulk, spray foam or weather stripping to close such gaps, further reducing wasted energy. Air can also often escape from recessed lighting vents, so be sure to tightly secure insulation around these objects.

What parts of the home should be insulated?

Ideally, the entire home should be insulated — from the attic to the crawlspace and everything in between. Common insulation projects include attics, crawlspaces, exterior and interior walls, basements and ceilings. For example, an uninsulated basement can account for as much as 25 percent of a home’s total heat loss.

What type of insulation should be used?

The type of insulation needed for a project depends upon the home’s region and the actual room or space being insulated. Furthermore, these factors also impact the R-value needed. For example, fiberglass batts and rolls provide ideal thermal and sound control and are a good solution for every room and space in a home.

What is R-value?

R stands for resistance to heat flow. The higher the R-Value, the greater the insulating power and resistance to heat flow. R-values are recommended based on the home’s location and the area being insulated. For example, a colder climate requires higher R-values than a milder, more temperate one.

For more DIY insulation installation tips and information on energy efficient home improvement projects, visit the Johns Manville Homeowner website. For those not interested in pursuing a do-it-yourself approach, consider hiring an insulation contractor. Ask for recommendations from friends or family or speak with a reputable retail outlet, like Dunn Lumber, Lowe’s or Home Depot.