Keep Your Older Home Warmer Add Insulation Keep Your Older Home Warmer Add Insulation


If you live in a home built before 1980, you're likely paying too much for your heating and cooling. The Department of Energy’s Energy Star program estimates owners of homes built before

1980 could save up to 20% of their heating and cooling costs if their homes were insulated and sealed properly. Here’s some ideas on where you can improve your home’s insulation and cut down on air leakage.

Attic insulation saves heat

  • Remember how your Mother always told you to wear a hat so you wouldn’t feel cold in the winter, well she was right and even if you've never thought about it, your home is a lot like you in the winter - it loses a lot of heat through its head (the attic). Adding insulation to your attic (just like wearing your hat) is a great way to make your home feel warmer all winter (and as an added bonus it will also keep you home cooler in summer).


Adding insulation to your attic

  • There are a number of ways you can add insulation to your attic, blown cellulose, blown polyurethane or fiberglass bats but by far the easiest way for a homeowner to do the job them selves is to simply lay fiberglass bat insulation on top of any existing insulation.
  • Fiberglass bats are commonly 16” or 24” wide and 8” long, so installing them is as straight forward as laying the bats side by side right across the existing insulation


How much insulation should I add?

  • A good rule of thumb is if you can see the ceiling joists in your attic, you should add more insulation. Insulation is measured in R-value or resistance to heat transfer and different  types of insulation have different R-values. The most common types of attic insulation are fiberglass (bats or blown glass) and cellulose. Fiberglass has an R-value of around R3 per inch of thickness while cellulose has a slightly higher R value- approaching R4 per inch- so 10 inches of fiberglass would be around R30.
  • When we were all less energy conscious R 30 was considered adequate, but nowadays in colder climates it’s recommended your attic be insulated to R49 to R 60.


What does sealing mean?

  • All homes have openings in their exterior, such as openings for wires and plumbing to pass through walls to doors and windows. If any of these openings aren’t sealed properly, air will move through them and since air moves from hot to cold, heated air will move out of your home, and allow colder air to move in.
  • Help keep the warm air inside in the winter (and the hot air outside in summer) by sealing any openings in your homes exterior. Adding weather stripping around doors and windows as well as applying caulking to fill any openings or gaps around the exterior of windows and doors or where pipes and wires pass through walls will cut down on drafts and end up saving you money all year round.

Murray Anderson is a veteran freelance writer with over 800 articles published in newspapers, in print and on the web. He can be reached at murand@lycos.com.

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