When it comes to valuable home performance upgrades, insulation often finds itself at the top of the list for most home performance contractors. Its importance simply cannot be overemphasized, and when combined with proper air sealing, the positive effects that insulation can have on your home can be instantly noticeable. Unfortunately, many homes in Minneapolis and Saint Cloud suffer from old, dirty and thin insulation, which does no favors to the homeowner. The solution? Beef up insulation and focus on the thermal boundary.
What is the Thermal Boundary?
Whenever an energy audit is performed, one of the most important tasks to focus on is in regards to inspecting the thermal boundary. The best place to start is the attic, which is one of the most common sources of air leakage within any home. Other places to look at are your basement (which includes crawlspaces and rim joists), dropped ceilings and ductwork. Typically, there will be at least some form of insulation, but it’s important to analyze what type it is and if there is enough of it.
Types of Insulation
As you might expect, there are a number of different types of insulation to choose from when attempting to enhance home performance, each of which has its own unique set of uses. Loose-fill and blown cellulose is made of ground newspaper (which is treated with fire retardants) and is usually found in attics, but it can also be packed densely in order to insulate wall and floor cavities. Fiberglass and fiberglass batts —the “cotton candy-looking” material you may be familiar with—is similar to cellulose, however it can pose health risks during installation and removal. It’s also not as dynamic and effective as blown cellulose, which is one of the best options out there.
Looking to improve air barriers, structural strength, exterior sheathing and thermal breaks? Rigid foam board may be a good option, which is generally applied over an entire area to serve as “continuous” insulation. Spray foam is also an excellent option and is available in both high and low density varieties, the latter of which tends to be more cost effective. In the end, the type or types of insulation that best suit your home can only be determined by working with a professional home performance contractor, and RetroGreen is here to help.