Monday, July 14, 2014

Insulation: It’s Not Just a Cold Weather Topic!

If you are currently sweating it out in a hot and humid location, the topic of insulation might just leave you cold. Right? That’s exactly the point! 

The Energy Experts are here to remind you that insulation is just as important in the heat of summer as it is in the middle of a snowstorm.  Now that it's July, let’s take a look at why insulation is really important during the hot summer months, too.

·        Hot attic? Did you know that in the summertime, even a ventilated attic can reach a temperature of 140 degrees on a sunny day? Your grandmother would probably say, “You could fry an egg up there!”  And she would be right – 140 degrees is seriously hot. When there is inadequate insulation to buffer your attic from the heat of the summer sun, it can genuinely feel like an oven up there.  Once the attic has absorbed all that heat, it starts radiating downwards into your home.

·         Do you live in an older home?  Older homes can be long on character and charm, but sometimes come up short on energy efficiency. If you live in an older home, have you updated the insulation in your attic? Even if it was updated at some point in the past, insulation can slip, slide and fail over time. Insulation should periodically be inspected and replaced if indicated. Current standards for insulation in a moderate climate are R-30 to R-60 for the attic, R-11 for walls, R-19 for raised floors and R.42 for ductwork. Remember that air leaks and roof repairs must be completed before insulation can be installed.

·         Ductwork in the attic? Many homes have HVAC ductwork that runs through the attic. Unfortunately, the combination of inadequate insulation and attic ductwork can actually make the summer heat problem even worse. If you have air conditioning, you might assume that attic insulation isn’t an issue that concerns you. Unfortunately, it is definitely a problem for you, your home and your wallet! The heat in the attic is sucking all the coolness out of the ducts when it travels through the attic. The result is that warm air is continuously being recirculated into your living space. Additionally, if you live in a really warm climate you might want to consider adding a radiant barrier to your attic to further reduce summer heat gain.

·         How much are you spending on air conditioning?  Without adequate insulation, you are probably spending too much money for too little comfort.  Due to inadequate insulation, your air conditioner is working too hard trying to keep your house cool.  You end up with a situation where your air conditioner is running all the time, your home is never really comfortable and your utility bills keep getting higher.  A quick reminder – heating and cooling your home makes up 54% of your monthly utility bill and energy costs are predicted to rise 2% each year through 2040. Don’t keep spending more money on something that isn’t working.

Need some suggestions for beating the heat? There are a variety of cost-effective strategies that homeowners can use to keep their homes cool and comfortable this summer. This includes running heat-emitting appliances such as the dryer and dishwasher during evening hours when the temperature is cooling off. Also, consider installing a programmable thermostat, solar screens and awnings. Don’t forget to take advantage of venting and ceiling fans to keep air circulating. Plus, “go green” and create more shade around the outside of your home by planting trees and vines.

Don't forget to insulate! All of those suggestions really do help, but nothing makes a bigger difference than insulation.  Insulation creates a thermal barrier that keeps your home cool in the summer and warm in the winter.  Remember, insulation isn’t just a cold weather issue. You are going to reap the benefits of insulation twelve months a year!

Here is a list of other recent Energy Blog articles that help you stay informed about insulation, air conditioning and keeping your home comfortable during the hot summer months: