Before the energy crisis of the 1970s, seemingly infinite energy reserves and low prices made people reach for the thermostat instead of relying on insulation. As the cost of energy began to rise, builders and homeowners realized the importance of proper insulation. Adding insulation to your home is a simple task requiring no special tools or skills. Depending on the size of your home, it should take between one to two days to insulate.
Four major areas in a home require insulation:
R-value is the measure of a material's ability to resist heat conduction. The greater the material's R-value, the better it performs as an insulator. All values assigned to insulation are based on specific thicknesses and are usually noted on the packaging. Compressing or otherwise reducing the thickness of insulation reduces its ability to resist conduction.
The materials you will use to insulate your home will depend on the type of installation. Listed below are the basic materials and their areas of use.
Cellulose insulation is a recycled, organic, loose-fill insulation blown into walls and attics. It is usually composed of recycled newspaper which has been treated with a flame retardant.
Fiberglass roll insulation is a manufactured fibrous insulation. Roll insulation is available in short batts for use in tight spaces and lengths up to 25 feet to quickly cover open spaces. Roll insulation is also available with a vapor barrier (faced insulation), without a vapor barrier (unfaced insulation), or completely wrapped in plastic sheathing for itch-free installation.
Attic rafter vents / baffles are designed to fit between rafters either 16 or 24 inches on center (OC) to prevent insulation from blocking the airflow from soffit vents.
Insulation supports are wire supports precut to fit between framing members, either 16 or 24 inches OC, to hold insulation in place.
Polyethylene sheeting is often used as a vapor barrier, in conjunction with blown cellulose or unfaced roll insulation. Most manufacturers suggest using 4 or 6 mm sheeting to resist tearing.