One component of your home that you should always keep in tip-top condition is, without a doubt, the insulation. Although unfortunately neglected until well into the 1970s and 80s, home insulation is now viewed as an integral part of a sustainable energy strategy to:
- Reduce our ecological footprint
- Save on heating and cooling costs
- Enhance comfort and indoor air quality
High-performance thermal insulation also helps to maintain a building’s integrity throughout its useful life by protecting materials from exterior humidity, heat and cold.
So if you’re planning to do some renovations this summer, consider checking the condition of your home insulation! Is it deteriorated or completely missing in places? If so, this is an ideal time for you to upgrade your insulation where it looks inadequate in order to maximize your indoor comfort and energy savings for years to come.
Return on investment: key insulation areas
To maximize the impact and financial return of your efforts, pay closest attention to the parts of your house most sensitive to heat loss, including:
- Roof (25 – 30% of total heat loss)
- Exterior above-ground walls (20 – 25%)
- Basement (7 – 10%)
Of course, you can also have your building’s vulnerable spots inspected by an insulation expert, who can quickly determine which areas need immediate attention. If you’ve been living in your home for a while, however, you have likely already noticed that some places are cold, drafty or prone to condensation buildup. As with most things, your five senses are often a good guide.
Blown-in cellulose is widely used for upgrading attic and roof insulation. Installed to a density of 1.45 lbs. per cubic foot, this eco-friendly, high-performance material doubles your insulation efficiency. Use it to say goodbye to warm air leaks in the winter and overheating in the summer!
To achieve optimal airtightness in your attic, you also need to install a vapour barrier and seal all joints (plumbing vents, attic hatch, etc.).
Exterior above-ground wall insulation
Houses in the 1970s were generally built using 2x4s and fibreglass insulation (which has an insulation value of R-10). The ideal product for enhancing insulation efficiency is indisputably polyurethane spray foam (also called urethane spray foam), which offers an R-18 value at a thickness of 3 inches. Spray foam insulation offers the significant advantage of also being an effective air and water barrier, eliminating the need to install a separate vapour barrier.
If your walls are made from 2x6s, you have 3 options:
- Spray cellulose fibre into the walls to significantly improve the overall thermal performance of your home insulation. Rated R-3.7 (compared to R-3 for fibreglass batt insulation), cellulose leaves no air pockets and is well-known for its effectiveness at soundproofing partitions. Keep a close eye on your vapour barrier (pressure resistance) while blowing in the cellulose.
- Fibreglass batt insulation is an economical product but must be installed perfectly along with the vapour barrier.
- Polyurethane spray foam is the most efficient option for your home’s exterior walls. If you’re reinsulating your entire house, consult an expert, who can identify the options that best suit your needs and budget.
Insulating your home’s basement has its own particular challenges in that the insulation must adhere perfectly to the concrete substrate, which can be uneven, porous and highly conductive. To maintain continuous insulation and avoid any thermal bridging, we recommend using polyurethane spray foam, which provides a perfect seal and excellent protection against heat loss. Polyurethane also serves as an air and vapour barrier, offering maximum impermeability in your basement while protecting against mildew all summer and winter long.
In new construction, the Building Code requires the use of under-slab insulation (R-5 full surface). A vapour barrier must be installed, and the air seal must be continuous. A single application of polyurethane spray foam insulation to a thickness of 1.5 inches meets all of these criteria.
Long-lasting indoor comfort
Following these tips for upgrading your insulation will help you maintain a comfortable indoor temperature without having to resort to excessive heating or cooling. It will also help you reduce your energy usage and save considerable money, which is easier on your wallet… and our planet!
SmartReno can help you find the right contractor for your Interior renovation project