Choosing the proper insulation and ventilation options can help save money and make your home more comfortable. For new construction, there is a wide range of insulation and ventilation options you can introduce during the building phase. These same issues can be addressed for existing homes, but some options may be limited. Your local power company may be able to offer some advice or suggestions.
Attic insulation will cut down on the transfer of hot or cold air between your living space and the attic. Proper insulation can also prevent condensation on the walls and ceiling of the living space. Attic insulation is generally either fiberglass rolls or squares or blown-in cellulose. Cellulose offers better insulation than fiberglass. Insulation is rated using an R-value; the higher the R-value, the greater the insulating effectiveness.
Walls and Ceiling Insulation
Fiberglass insulation rolls can be used in walls or ceiling spaces. It is typically installed during construction, but can be used during remodeling. To insulate these spaces in existing homes, blown-in cellulose insulation may be the only choice. Spray foam insulation can be used to provide insulation and soundproofing, but may require professional installation. Foam board insulation can be used to insulate walls during construction and is commonly used to insulate block or masonry walls.
Insulation for Windows and Doors
Poorly sealed windows and doors can dramatically affect your interior temperature and waste energy dollars. Use caulk or foam insulation to seal gaps around window and door frames. Weather stripping insulation should be installed around doors and windows. Self-sealing door jambs prevent air from leaking around the base of the door. Replacing single pane windows with double pane storm windows will provide additional insulation.
Holes, gaps or cracks around household fixtures should be repaired or insulated to prevent a loss of heat or cool air. Expanding foam insulation can be used to seal gaps around plumbing or electrical access holes. Rubber gaskets, caulk or foam can prevent air passing through light switches, electric outlets or ceiling mounted lighting.
Heat and moisture rise from the living space of your home and collect in the attic. Proper ventilation helps keep your attic cool and dry, preventing moisture, mold or water damage. Attic ventilation can be provided naturally by airflow from vents placed around the attic. An electric vent fan can provide a more active ventilation system, but can pull air from the living space if the attic isn't properly insulated. Roof ridge vents and rafter vents are other options but may require professional help.
Ventilation for home spaces such as bathrooms, utility rooms or the kitchen can serve several purposes. For areas of high humidity, such as baths or utility rooms, venting out humid air will prevent condensation and prevent mold. Exhaust vents or fans are commonly used for this purpose. Kitchen appliances may emit toxic fumes or smoke that needs to be vented for safety. Hood fans should be installed for this purpose.
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