Insulation Information

Inadequate insulation and air leakage are leading causes of energy waste in most homes.

Insulation Information

Heating and cooling account for 50% - 70% of the energy use in the average home.

There are many benefits of home insulation. Insulating your home will add to your comfort, create a healthier home environment, reduce your energy bills and have a positive environmental impact.

Insulation Batts being installed

Insulation Benefits

What can you gain by Insulating your home?

  •  Improved Comfort

    Increased insulation reduces conductive heat losses and gains resulting in warmer interior surfaces in the winter and cooler interior surfaces in the summer. Approximately 40 percent of our physical comfort in homes is due to radiant heat exchange between our bodies and the surrounding interior surfaces. Increased insulation reduces this radiant heat exchange and minimizes temperature differences between rooms, thus maintaining a more consistent level of comfort throughout a house.

  •  Reduced Obsolescence

    Based on recent trends for improved efficiency, building envelopes with increased insulation levels are expected to become industry practice. Since it is both difficult and costly to increase insulation after a house is built, it is best to increase insulation levels during the original construction. ENERGY STAR labeled homes are constructed to exceed minimum building code requirements and are, therefore, expected to be less vulnerable to obsolescence.

  •  Increased Construction Quality

    Building codes establish the legal minimum construction standards. ENERGY STAR labeled homes are constructed to significantly exceed these codes. The result is better quality construction. This is particularly true in cases where special care is taken during installation to insure no gaps or voids are left in the insulation.

  •  Improved Indoor Air Quality

    When insulation levels are increased and materials properly installed, there are fewer gaps and voids through which unconditioned air can leak into a house. This helps avoid dirt, dust, and other impurities that can negatively affect indoor air quality. A tight building envelope is a critical component to ensure good indoor air quality.

  •  Lower Utility Bills

    More than 40 percent of the energy consumed in a typical household goes to heating and cooling. Increased insulation reduces this energy consumption which results in lower utility bills.

  •  Improved Resale Position

    Increased insulation levels can provide the many impressive benefits listed above resulting in a more comfortable, higher quality home with better indoor air quality and lower utility bills. These benefits can translate into a higher resale value.

How Insulation Works

Heat flows naturally from a warmer to a cooler space.

Example of Heat Flow

In the winter, heat moves directly from all heated living spaces to the outdoors and to adjacent unheated attics, garages and basements wherever there is a difference in temperature. During the summer, heat moves from outdoors to the houses interior. To maintain comfort, the heat lost in winter must be replaced by your heating system and the heat gained in summer must be removed by your air conditioner. Insulating ceilings, walls and floors decreases the heating or cooling needed by providing an effective resistance to the flow of heat.

Reflective insulation works by reducing the amount of energy that travels in the form of radiation. Some forms of reflective insulation also divide a space up into small regions to reduce air movement, or convection, but not to the same extent as Fiberglass Batts, Fiberglass Loosefill and Sprayfoam Insulation.

An example of how heat flows

An example of how heat flows.

Steps to Insulating your Home

The following steps outline the process of making your home more comfortable through energy upgrades.

 Step 1: Start with the right Insulation Contractor

Not all contractors are the same. Some concentrate on kitchens, some on bathrooms. Some concentrate on home energy upgrades - - focusing on ways to make your home comfortable, energy efficient and healthy. Look for companies that employ workers who carry the national Home Energy Professional Certifications such as Reichel Insulation. A home performance contractor will have a certified auditor either on staff or under contract to evaluate your home.

 Step 2: Get a Thorough Home Energy Audit

A home performance evaluation, or home energy audit, requires specialized equipment and trained individuals - - called energy auditors -- to operate that equipment. Energy auditors who carry a Home Energy Professional Certification have met the required professional and educational prerequisites and are certified to the highest standard in the industry, proving they are qualified to conduct a home performance evaluation.

The most important piece of equipment an energy auditor operates is called a blower door, which is used to determine where air is leaking out of your home. If you followed the auditor around while the blower door is running, you might be surprised at what you'd find. Air leaking through face plates on switches and outlets, and escaping around doors, windows, pipes, and under sinks . . . and all of these places add up. Put them all together and you could have a space the size of a bathroom window -- maybe even bigger -- that's constantly open. The blower door test is a good way to learn why your house isn't comfortable.

In addition to the blower door test, certified energy auditors use tools -- such as gas leak detectors, carbon monoxide detectors, kill-a-watt meters and lead-safe testing kits -- to give your home a thorough evaluation.

Be sure to ask if your auditor is certified and what equipment will be used for the evaluation. If your auditor is just going to walk through your house and estimate what work needs to be done, you don't have an experienced home performance contractor. Ask if you can follow along with the auditor during the evaluation -- most will welcome the chance to teach you about your home.

 Step 3: Ask the Right Questions

While all homes are different and need to be evaluated based on their own unique characteristics, most dwellings can benefit from similar types of improvements. Before your home energy audit begins, be sure to ask your home energy upgrade contractor about the following things. Some of the upgrades you could do yourself, like replacing a refrigerator or installing a programmable thermostat, provided you know those are significant sources of energy loss.

  • Air Sealing
  • Remember that space in your house that's the size of a bathroom window and constantly open? Using the reading from the blower door, an auditor can figure out just how much air is moving through that gap at any given time. This is usually the biggest source of energy loss in a home, and sealing those gaps is one of the quickest ways to make your home more comfortable and efficient. Reducing air flow can pay off in as little as five years. It is also the baseline by which all other energy efficiency upgrades are measured (the absolute energy savings will vary by your climate).

  • Reset Water Heater Thermostat
  • Most water heaters heat water to a set temperature and then hold it there. This means that all day and night, the water heater cycles on and off, just maintaining that set temperature. Lowering the setting a few degrees can often save half as much energy as air sealing would. And chances are turning down the temperature won't even be noticeable.

  • Programmable Thermostat for Heating System
  • It seems obvious but just like the water heater maintains a set temperature even when it isn't being used, a thermostat does the same thing for the entire house. Just letting it cool off (or warm up) when there isn't anyone awake can save energy and money as well. Without sacrificing comfort, it can also be close to half of what air sealing would save you. This change usually pays for itself in about three years.

  • Attic and Wall Insulation
  • The greater the difference between the indoor and the outdoor temperatures, the more energy it will take to maintain a comfortable temperature in your home. Adding insulation between the indoors and the outdoors reduces that energy demand. Depending on where you live, the savings from insulating your walls and the attic could be almost double the savings of air sealing. This procedure also pays back in 3 1/2 to 12 years.

  • Replace Refrigerator
  • Much like a water heater, a refrigerator holds a set temperature that is very different from the air outside of it. It makes sense that a better sealed, better insulated refrigerator with better mechanical systems would save more energy. Depending on your previous model, a new energy star refrigerator can save up to $150 per year. One way to test the seal on your refrigerator is to close a dollar bill in the door. If the bill drops when you close the door, you may want to consider fixing the seal or getting a new one. Depending on the refrigerator and the savings, this can pay for itself in 10 years - well under the average lifespan of the appliance.

  • Water Heaters and Furnaces
  • The savings from water heaters and furnaces depend a lot on where the house is and what the fuel is. Generally, natural gas is going to be much cheaper than electricity, provided it's available. The newer high efficiency gas furnaces will often be worth installing, even if the gas furnace in your home is relatively new. Depending on if you live in a cold climate or a warmer one, a new high efficiency furnace will rival or exceed air sealing for its potential savings. In warmer areas, a high efficiency heat pump may replace a gas furnace as the best choice for the home.

 Step 4:  Enjoy!

In the end, your home is as unique as you are. It will take a certified home energy professional to evaluate your home and your family's specific needs. It will also take a certified specialist to make those upgrades to your home such as Reichel Insulation. It's not rocket science, but it is building science. Ask for certified home energy professionals because they have the ability to educate you on all of the cost-saving alternatives for your home. Then, you can begin living comfortably.

Blower Door Testing

Home Air Tightness Test

A blower door test is a powerful fan that mounts to the frame of an exterior door (typically your front door) which when run pulls air out of the interior of the home so that the higher outside air pressure flows in from all of the unsealed cracks and openings.

Testing indoor air tightness with a blower door fan

Testing indoor air tightness with a blower door fan.

How to Prepare for a Blower Door Test

  • If you heat with wood, be sure all fires are completely out - not even coals - before the auditor arrives. Remove any ashes from open fireplaces.

  • Plan to do a walk-through of your home with the auditor. Be prepared to point out areas that you know are drafty or difficult to condition comfortably.

  • Expect the auditor to request access to all areas of your home including closets, built-in cabinets, attics, crawl spaces, and any unused rooms.

  • The auditor will need to close all exterior doors and windows, open all interior doors, and close any fireplace dampers, doors, and woodstove air inlets.

  • Expect the auditor to set controls on all atmospheric fossil fuel appliances to ensure that they do not fire during the test.

  • Expect the test to take up to an hour or more, depending on the complexity of your home.

Thermal Camera Imaging

See how well your home is insulated

Thermal imaging for air tightness and energy efficiency are important quality control measures when building or renovating a home. Heat loss can account for up to 50% of total energy consumption in a building with causes ranging from air leakage through chimneys, attics and wall vents to badly sealed doorways and failing argon gas windows to missing insulation.

Thermal imaging cameras are well-established as valuable inspection tools that help reveal missing insulation, HVAC air flow and equipment issues, radiant heating malfunctions, compromised roofing, and much more. By detecting and locating patterns and sources of heat loss that are invisible to the naked eye, thermal images provide convincing evidence in reports where improvements need to be made and how well they've been completed.

A thermal image of a home showing the difference in a well insulated wall and not

Thermal image of a home showing the difference in a well insulated wall and not.