How Insulation Works

How Insulation Works

 

Insulation is a thermally resistant barrier which inhibits the migration of thermal energy into and out of the house. In simple terms: insulation blocks heat from entering the home in the summer and holds heat in during the winter. The results are a cooler home in the summer, warmer home in the winter, and lower energy bills. It’s that simple and it really works. Insulation is so effective that its cost is often paid for through energy savings in less than a year…and with the rising cost of natural gas and electricity, savings may come even sooner!
how attic insulation works

 

Where do I put Insulation?

Summer

During the summer the suns powerful rays radiate down onto our homes, the roof and walls heat up and the temperature in the attic can rise to nearly 170 degrees. This heat enters the home and causes things to become quite warm and uncomfortable. You then have two choices….turn on the air conditioning and watch the electric meter spin, or suffer with the heat.

Homeowners often complain of an air conditioning system that runs all day and never cools the house below 80 degrees. This is typical of a poorly insulated home, the heat is entering the home at about the same rate as your air conditioning can cool it. The solution is to reduce the heat-load and block the heat from coming into your home. Insulation installed in your attic and walls will dramatically reduce the amount of heat entering your home; the house stays cooler longer into the day and the air conditioning, when it does come on, runs much less often. When we insulate homes during hot days, customers often notice an immediate difference and frequently describe the feeling as though a huge shady cloud came over their home.

How Insulation Works

 

Winter

Insulation makes a huge difference in the winter, it’s amazingly effective when it comes to retaining heat. Just as insulation can block heat from entering the home in the summer, it too works in the same way to keep the heat contained within the home during the winter. Homeowners frequently complain of cold homes and furnaces that run continuously. This is because the heat is escaping about as fast as the furnace can produce heat. Once insulated, heat is retained within the home for hours longer. The result is a warmer home that uses much less energy to stay warm.

Why Insulation Goes on the Floor of the Attic and not on the Underside of the Roof:

Attic insulation is properly installed directly on the floor of the attic, which is your ceiling, this is because you are heating and cooling the area below the ceiling (conditioned area) while the area in the attic is considered unconditioned area.

In the winter you want to hold the heat in the home where you live, you don’t want heat to rise past the ceiling and then try to hold it in your attic. During the summer it would seem like a good idea to also insulate the underside of the roof in an effort to keep the attic cooler, but the roof rafters are limited in being able to hold either R13 or R19 rolled fiberglass, which is not enough to entirely block the heat from coming into the attic, by the afternoon the attic will get quite warm/hot and then the insulation installed on the roof rafters will serve to hold that heat in over night and the attic insulation on your ceiling won’t be able to cool down over night. Also, your roofing material will get hotter because the heat won’t be able to ventilate underneath, most roofing warranties are void unless you have adequate attic ventilation.

Additional Benefits of Insulation

A well insulated home means the air conditioning and furnace system work less often, besides saving money on heating and cooling bills, the air inside the house does not get processed and cycled as much through your HVAC system, which means the air does not get nearly as dried out.

Insulation also serves to reduce outside sound from entering the home. People near airports and schools often report dramatically less sound infiltrating and most people describe the home as having a more solid feeling to it.

The non-flammable nature of cellulose insulation offers a degree of fire protection to the home. The insulation becomes a “hard-target” that the fire has to burn around, thus slowing the spread of fire by 57%. In testing, a well insulated home remained structurally intact and standing significantly longer then a non-insulated or fiberglass insulated home.

Also, because cellulose is treated with borate, the material is resistant to insect, termite, rodent, vermin, mold, mildew and fungus. There’s even a reduction in condensation on ceilings and walls.