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Insulation Should Be Checked This Winter to Maximize Efficiency

Home comfort depends on the movement of heat, and insulation is the substance that regulates it. Heat energy is always in motion from a warmer zone into a cooler zone. Maintaining a comfortable indoor temperature year-round means holding heat in during the winter and keeping it out in summer. Since the furnace and air conditioner in a home can account for over 50 percent of the total home energy consumption, reducing the amount of energy expended to offset heat loss or gain is a critical element of an overall plan to lower operating costs.

The most common materials used to insulate a home are fiberglass batts and cellulose loose-fill.

  • Fiberglass batts are the familiar roll-out blankets of material that look like pink cotton candy. Pre-sized to lay between the ceiling joists in the attic or the studs inside wall spaces, fiberglass batts are often the easiest and most cost-effective insulation upgrade for a homeowner, particularly in the attic. Installing fiberglass batts inside existing walls is generally reserved for a time of major renovation.
  • Cellulose loose-fill is composed of pulverized paper and cloth treated with fire retardant. Blown into the attic floor and into wall spaces through a large-diameter air hose, it resembles mounds of snow-like particles. Because it’s a loose-fill product, cellulose is superior to fiberglass for filling all the odd-shaped nooks and crannies in an attic and can be injected into wall spaces through small access holes without opening up the entire wall.

Insulation efficiency is rated by its resistance, or R-value. The higher the value, the more effective the material at reducing heat transfer and lowering energy costs. Fiberglass batts have an R-value of 3.2 per inch, while cellulose loose-fill is rated 3.8 per inch. In northern Virginia, the Department of Energy (DOE) recommends attic insulation of R38 to R60. This translates to 12 inches to 18 inches of fiberglass batts or 10 to 15 inches of cellulose loose fill.

For more information about upgrading home insulation in the Fairfax area, contact us at HVAC & Plumbing Unlimited Heating & Air Conditioning.

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