How Upgrading Insulation Saves Energy

October 21, 2019

The insulation in your home serves an important purpose: slowing down the transfer of heat between the unconditioned outdoors and your living space. Without insulation, the heat of summer will force its way into the attic and through the materials that make up a home’s construction. In the winter, the heating costs of an under-insulated home will be higher than they need to, as the hot air from a heating system slips right out of the living space. When the right amount of home insulation is installed properly in a home or building, it can reduce overall energy usage by 11%, and heating and cooling costs by as much as 15%.

Here’s what you should know about insulation and how it can stabilize your indoor temperatures and air drafts while reducing your energy consumption and saving you money.

Why Insulate Now?

Insulation is rated on its ability to resist the transfer of heat, and has an R-value. As building science has progressed over the decades, builders and insulation contractors have learned more about the best insulation types to use, as well as which target R-value will be required to insulate a home properly. If you live in an older home, it is possible that your insulation is not up to par with current local energy efficiency standards. Plus, as a home performance upgrade, insulation could provide an estimated 117% return on investment when it comes to increasing property value.

The benefits of a properly insulated home can include:

Insulation Applications

The insulation and weatherization needs of each home will vary, depending on the square footage and climate. But here are some of the key home improvement projects that involve insulating your home:

Attic Insulation

As the sun beats down on the roof of a house, it will heat up the shingles and roofing material. This heat can transfer from the roof to the air in the attic, reaching temperatures upwards of 130º. Insulation plays an essential role in slowing the heat transfer from the attic to the living space in the summer months. In the winter, insulation in the attic keeps heat inside the living space, where it can keep occupants warm.

Air Sealing

Some insulation materials like expanding spray foam are used to seal up any existing holes or gaps in a home in a process referred to as air sealing. For homeowners wondering, “How do you seal up a drafty home?”, air sealing is often an important step. Air sealing compliments insulation by reducing the air leaks that allow outside air to travel between conditioned and unconditioned spaces in a home freely. 

Floor & Crawl Space Insulation

A common sign that your crawlspace or basement may be under-insulated is cold early morning floors. As the existing heat in a home rises towards the attic, that hot air will be replaced by cooler air from underneath the house. When the area underneath the floors is not adequately insulated, the colder temperatures underneath will transfer to the flooring material.

PACE Insulation Requirements for California & Florida

If you are planning to build a new home, or make any changes to your existing home in California or Florida, you will need to meet specific energy efficiency codes and standards, as follows:

California: Title 24

If you are making any changes or additions to your home, you will need to comply with the regulations outlined in Title 24 of the California Code of Regulations. This provides clear instructions for insulation contractors on meeting R-values and best practices for proper installation.

Florida: The Florida Building Code

The Florida Building Code outlines specific minimum R-values that are required for compliance, as follows:

  •  Frame walls R-13
  •  Block walls: Interior insulation R-7.8, Exterior insulation R-6
  • Ceilings: R-30
  •  Floors: Raised R-13, SOG R-0

Utilizing PACE Financing for Insulation Upgrades

Thanks to Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing, homeowners can upgrade their home performance without the burden of upfront insulation costs. PACE financing offers 100% upfront financing at a competitive fixed interest rate. PACE financing is repaid annually on your property taxes. 

PACE eligible insulation upgrades include:

  • Air sealing
  • Attic & roof insulation
  • Attic & roof spray foam insulation
  • Wall insulation