Is it the middle of winter and your furnace is running, but your home still feels drafty? Whether your home is old or new, there are a few items to check to make sure you’re getting the most energy efficiency out of your home.
How can you tell if you have the proper amount of insulation in the attic? Energy Star advises if your insulation is at or above the level of your floor joists, you don’t need to add more insulation. The technical standard to help determine the appropriate level of insulation is to look at the recommended R-Value of insulation for each region of the United States. R-Value is the metric that shows how well insulation resists heat. For the St. Louis Metro area, the recommended R-Value is R-38. This converts to approximately 10-14 inches of insulation.
When replacing your insulation, there are a few different options from which to choose. The three most common types are:
- Spray Foam Insulation – better overall sealing and insulating.
- Cellulose Insulation – is easy to modify for attics in older homes and has great insulation properties.
- Fiberglass Insulation – a very effective insulator, but not a great solution to seal air leaks.
How old are your windows? What type of windows do you have? Traditionally, the more panes of glass in your window, the better insulated they’ll be. Double-pane windows are a popular choice for homeowners. These windows usually have Low-E glass that has a coating which helps infrared and ultraviolet light bounce off the window. As a result, your house will stay warmer and your furniture, window treatments and carpet won’t fade as fast. Double-pane windows usually have argon or krypton gas in between the panes, as these gases have better insulating properties than regular air.
The triple-pane style of window further increases the efficiency and is good for homes with southern exposure. It decreases the level of natural light and also the amount of heat let in by the window. If you live by a highway or a busy street, triple-pane windows can reduce outside road sounds. Also, the added third pane of glass may increase the level of security within your home. They are heavier than double pane, but that shouldn’t be a problem if you hire a reliable company that has experience installing these types of windows.
Do you know how old your door is? Older doors – especially wood versions – and their framing wear out over the decades. If you feel a draft around your door, that’s outside air coming in, which also means your warm air is escaping. This can easily be corrected with a newer door and framing. Also, an old door and frame may have accumulated weather and water damage. Check the threshold for any moisture or mold damage. Make sure you take this opportunity to correct any water issues before you consider replacing the threshold.
In this technology-driven era, you can take measures like installing a programmable thermostat, if your home/AC unit are compatible. These “smart” thermostats can help keep the temperature at that perfect setting to coincide with your schedule, i.e. time spent sleeping or at work. This can save homeowners $100 or more in energy bills over the year.
Properly installed fiberglass, cellulose and most foam insulation materials can all reduce the heat conduction of the completed wall system. The key is “properly installed.” Ideally, a competent contractor will use an infrared camera during or after installation to look for voids.
If you think you have any of the above problems or want to take preventative measures, the professionals at Mosby can help you investigate your insulation and energy efficiency. Mosby Building Arts has been helping St. Louis, MO-area homeowners for more than 70 years. If you are interested, give us a call at 314-909-1800, or contact us here.