“The devil is in the details”. Probably you listen this phrase before, don’t you? In in home construction it is not different: some details during the building can cost homeowners a lot of money in the future.
Insulation is one of the most important topics when you are planing your house building. We have clear rules dictated by the codes in place, but you also have to decide among a lot of options that contractors present you: fiberglass batts and blankets, cotton batts, rockwool batts and blankets, blown-in cellulose, open and closed cell spray foam, among others (you can find a list of different types of insulation clicking here).
Despite the importance of the R-values to pass the inspection, also you have to remember that air leaks are very important for your to have an energy efficient house. Air leaking into your attic, for example, could be costing you money—from 15 – 20% of a home’s heating and cooling energy is lost due to air leaks normally. A single 2″ hole can draft expensive heated air into your attic and suck cold air in around your windows and doors. And you don’t want to waste lots of money just because of that, do you?
Thinking of your ceiling as a solid surfaces is a big mistake: the truth is that ceiling leaks air into unfinished attic spaces through a lot of gaps and openings:
- ceiling panels
- electrical wiring
- heating and air conditioning ducts
- access hatch
Air leaks have a chimney-like effect on the insulation of houses. When leaks exist in the attic, warm air from the living areas is funneled upward and out through the roof. As this upward suction occurs, cold air that enters the house – through leaks in the basement, for example – is funneled through the ground floor into the living quarters.
To avoid this air leak you need a caulk, tape or a spray foam (a lot of brands are there in the market). You have to seal all possible spaces that can leak air from your main living area to your attic. It is a time consuming process but not an impossible work for you. If you prefer, hire a specialized contractor to help you on that (at least to test if your house is leaking air to your attic).
The EnergyStar.gov website has a lot of good information that can help you decide if you need to improve your insulation to save money in electrical bills. It will also help our environment.