No matter where homes are built in this country insulation contractors will provide an important function in their construction. With the price of energy increasing each year inadequately insulated homes can cost a homeowner a large part of the family budget. This is why a homeowner with an older home needs an insulation contractor to assess the energy retention of the dwelling and to assess what protection needs to be added.
There are many types of insulation from spun fiberglass to closed-cell spray foam. Each type has its benefits and costs and the key to protecting a home is to put the right insulation in without spending more money than is needed.
R-Value: The Measure of Insulation
In today's world the insulation factor of a wall or ceiling is called the r-value. This is the factor that measures how well a surface will slow down the movement of heat and cold. The higher the value the better the insulation. A home built today will have a value of R-15 to R-18 in the walls and R-45 in the attic.
Types of Insulation
1. Fiberglass Batt
The most common type of insulation on the market is spun fiberglass that is sized to fit between the sixteen-inch centers of a framed wall. It can be found in almost every application that requires a stabilization of temperature from home walls to recreational vehicles. It is inexpensive, easy to install and won't rot. Its r-value is usually around R-3 per inch giving a 5 ½ inch exterior wall between R-16 and R-18.
2. Cotton Batts
Sometimes called "blue jean" insulation cotton has a slightly greater r-value than fiberglass and evolved from the environmentally-friendly movement. However, if the cotton gets wet it could cause mold in the walls. It is also harder to cut and install than fiberglass and this adds to the cost.
3. Blown-In Cellulose
One of the best insulation types for retro-fits is blown-in cellulose which is recycled newspaper treated with a fire retardant. Insulation contractors drill holes at the top of the walls the loose particles are literally blown in the cavities filling up every crack and cranny. With water-based adhesives the cellulose can be sprayed in place in new homes. The r-value is around the same as fiberglass batts.
4. Closed-Cell Spray Foam
In the 1980's urea-formaldehyde spray foam (UFFI) was banned as insulation because it was said to off-gas carcinogenic vapors. Today, spray foam contains soy fill along with other non-invasive chemicals that expands when sprayed in place. The foam penetrates all spaces and seals out moisture. Although more expensive than regular insulation types it is around R-5.5 per inch.
5. Rigid Foam Insulation
Because it is waterproof and light insulation contractors find rigid foam insulation great for basements where it can also be installed on the outside of the walls. It is also good for exterior cladding a home before installing vinyl siding or other cladding offering an extra insulation factor to the home. It has a insulation value of between R-6 and R-7 per inch.
In hot parts of the country metallic foil can reflect as much as 92% of the sun's heat out of the attic or, in cold areas, back into the home. Foil-backed, foam insulation can approach R-8 per inch.
Professional Insulation Contractors Make Better Changes
With proper installation the insulation retrofit on an older home can save the homeowner hundreds of dollars in energy costs per year. This leans less furnace operation in the winter and less air conditioning unit in the summer.
Kim Kinrade writes for renovation, travel and news sites. When he is not doing this or renovating old houses he finds the time to write novels.
Key Hiring Tips
From large to small projects, before you select any contractor be sure to take the time to properly screen them. The time it takes now to screen a contractor will help ensure success for your home improvement project and avoid problems down the road.