Brrrr. As we start to adjust our thermostats and bring wood in for the winter, I’m curious about the amount of insulation we have in our home. Since moving in nearly two years ago, and heading into our third winter of home heating, we have been fortunate to experience decreasing costs. This isn’t the case for many new homeowners who find it much more expensive to keep their home cosy than they expected.
A material’s resistance to heat flow is called its Resistance-value or better known as R-value, Maritime Insulators explains on its website. Having high R-value insulation installed in the cavities of your home slows the flow of heat through walls, floors and ceilings. The higher the R-value, the more effective the insulation. Dense packed cellulose has an R-value of 3.8 per inch.
“As the weather gets colder, homeowners should take a look in their attics to see if there is enough insulation,” says Danny Myra, owner of Maritime Insulators. “Code is R-40, which is around 12 inches of insulation. R-50 is recommended by energy auditors.
“By insulating your house walls and ceiling you can save from 30 per cent to 50 per cent on heating bills depending on the amount you have in your attic and walls before you insulate.”
For those of us with little or no experience in home efficiency, Myra says let your senses be your guide.
“Touch your walls on the colder days to feel how cold they are,” Myra suggests. “If they are cold, there may be no insulation in them. If on windy days you can feel drafts, this is a sign that there is no insulation.
“If this is the case, drill a small hole in a closet or behind a cupboard to see if you see any insulation in the walls. A metal coat hanger can be used to insert in the hole and see if you hook any insulation.”
I took Myra’s advice and did the touch test. Although temperatures aren’t as low as they will be soon, I could feel a difference room-to-room, with the master bedroom feeling coldest. This isn’t an issue for us, as we like to be cool when we sleep, but we certainly don’t want to be paying to heat an inefficient space.
“Walls should be completely full of insulation — either fibreglass or cellulose. If there is other types of insulation in your walls, consult with a profession to insure it is safe.
“Basement walls and headers are other common places that are overlooked and can lose a lot of heat. This is usually an easy place to see if there is insulation or not.”
Insulation isn’t a one-size-fits-all business. With many different types and methods, it’s ideal to consult a professional about what would best suit your home.
“Some of the main types are fibreglass, cellulose and spray foam. It is best to use spray foam in the basement and header area, cellulose in exterior walls and blown-in fibreglass or cellulose in the attic.
“We advise homeowners to check their insulation levels and if they need insulation call Efficiency Nova Scotia because there is grant money available for every house. It’s also wise to get a couple of quotes, ask lots of questions and if one quote is a lot lower than the others, be careful not to get ripped off.”
For more information, visit www.maritimeinsulators.com.