Wednesday, May 14th, 2014 by Ronald Evans
After what seems like an eternity, it looks like winter is on its way out and spring is here to stay. After one of the coldest and most miserable winters in recorded history, many homeowners are breathing a sigh of relief. They made it through relatively unscathed and heating bills should start to trend downward. Those insulation and home comfort projects that arctic weather pushed to the forefront can be put on hold until next year, right? That could not be further from the truth.
Most homeowners only think of insulation in the winter, when it tends to be very apparent that they have problems. Cold floors, drafty rooms, uneven temperatures throughout the house, and sky high energy bills magnify problems within a house and make them much more painful, but those same problems can cause discomfort and energy loss in the summer months as well.
Homeowners often only think about insulation in the winter, but it is equally as important during the summer. Poor attic insulation can cause heat in the attic, which can reach temperatures in excess of 150⁰, to make its way into the house through a phenomenon known as convection. Many homeowners have blown in fiberglass insulation or fiberglass batts, because for years fiberglass was viewed as the best option for home insulation, but luckily this thought process is changing.
Fiberglass insulation lets air pass through it more easily than cellulose insulation or spray foam insulation do. Air that the homeowner pays to heat can then easily escape the house. Higher heating bills are sure to follow. In the warmer months, fiberglass not only allows air to pass through, but it also absorbs more heat than other insulation options. When the heat in the attic penetrates through the fiberglass and reaches the roof decking, the decking then absorbs the heat. This whole scenario doesn't seem like much, but improper insulation turns the ceilings in a house into the equivalent of radiant heaters. The heat can transfer from the decking to the drywall and then into the living space. Since heat moves from warm to cold areas, dirt, dust, and mold from the attic can also be pulled into the living space. This results in higher cooling bills, uncomfortable and inconsistent temperatures within the home, and extra work for the air conditioning unit. If the home doesn't have an air conditioner, the homeowner is definitely in for a long and miserable summer.
Cellulose insulation is a far superior insulator both in terms of air passing through it, and stopping heat from moving from one area to another. It is much denser and requires less overall material to reach the same R rating, or insulation value, as fiberglass insulation. Installing cellulose insulation, along with proper air sealing, will dramatically improve the comfort, health, and energy efficiency of homes in all types of climates.