How to Insulate Your Home

How to insulate your home the easy way to make your house warmer in winter, cooler in summer, and much quieter year round.

| December 1995/January 1996

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    Diagram 1: In unheated attic, install batts with facing down, leaving area above eave vents clear.
    MOTHER EARTH NEWS STAFF
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    >Diagram 2: In heated attic, install batts from the top down and staple paper edges.
    MOTHER EARTH NEWS STAFF
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    Installing insulation, which in most cases you can do on your own, will not only have a huge impact on your energy expenditure, but also will make your home feel more solid and quiet in the bargain.
    PHOTO: MOTHER EARTH NEWS STAFF
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    Diagram 3: Install batts in unheated crawl space.
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    Diagram 4: Unvented crawl space wall, nail batts to sill.
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    Diagram 5: Humid climates use 4-ft. wide bubbble-pack insulation above vented crawl space.
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    Diagram 6: Applying cellulose fiber insulation from the exterior of your home.
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    Diagram 10: Below rafters, ventilation maintained between rafters.
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    Diagram 7: When applying cellulose fiber, wear long sleeves, hat, gloves, goggles and a dual-cartridge respirator.
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    Diagram 8: In the attic, you can blow loose-fill fibers over existing insulation.
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    Diagram 9: Ceiling level, ventilation maintained at eaves.
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    Diagram 11: Between rafters, ventilation maintained above insulation.
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    Diagram 12: Above rafters ventilation maintained between insulation and roof covering.
    MOTHER EARTH NEWS STAFF
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    Overview of where insulation may be in place in your house.
    MOTHER EARTH NEWS STAFF

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How to insulate your home with easy to use methods to warm your house in winter, make it cooler in summer, and make your home much quieter year round. (See the insulation diagrams in the image gallery.)

How to Insulate Your Home

Few people know just how much more comfortable and how much money and energy could be saved by a comprehensive insulation upgrade. Oh, sure, it nags at you every time you get a $200 oil or gas bill, but will the time expended in buttoning up the house (to the extent that a rank amateur is capable) really pay off? Consider this: The newest generation of what used to be called superinsulation—plastic, metal, and recycled material composites—makes fiberglass look antiquated by comparison, is quicker and far less hazardous to install, and has the capacity to reduce your home's heating and cooling load by 50 percent. For the average home, that's a $1,500 savings on wood, coal, oil, or gas that you can put right back into your pocket. This is particularly true if you have a home that has not benefited from an upgrade in the past 10 years. Such an upgrade, which in most cases you can do on your own, will not only have a huge impact on your energy expenditure, but also will make your home feel more solid and quiet in the bargain.

Installing insulation in existing buildings poses challenges. However, the question is no longer whether it makes sense to insulate or even to some extent how much to insulate. The question now is simply how to find the most effective way of insulating each element of our home to the highest standard that we can afford. In the next few pages, I'll tell you how to do just that.

There is one important concept that is worth bearing in mind: Total heat produced in a building equals total heat lost to the outside. All insulation does is slow down the rate of heat loss, so that less heat is required to maintain the same internal temperature. When we insulate our houses to a high standard, we not only conserve the heat from our heating appliances, but also from all the other sources of heat, such as heat from cookers, lights, computers, and our bodies. These by-product sources of heat can then play a more important role in heating, and do the entire job themselves at certain times of the year.



Materials  

Choosing the most suitable material for each situation, as you might imagine, is an important part of insulating, though much of the decision will be made for you depending upon the locally available materials. Most are not suitable for every application; for instance, some deteriorate with moisture. It is also important that we choose materials that do least harm to the environment. However, to some extent all materials used for insulation are ecological because in most cases during their life cycle they will prevent many times more pollution than their manufacturing has caused.






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