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Home insulation can be a year-round money saver

3/17/2017 10:29:35 AM

Proper home insulation is not only a good way to stay warm in the winter and cool in the summer. It can also save you money on your energy bills year round.

To reduce costly energy waste, especially in older homes, the Minnesota Commerce Department recommends that homeowners consider adding insulation in coordination with sealing air leaks.

Proper insulation can cut heating and cooling costs 15 percent or more, depending on factors such as the amount of existing insulation in your home, house size, air leaks, personal energy use and living habits. Many variables affect the exact amount you will save, but insulating your home is usually a wise energy investment that also improves comfort.

The R-value (or thermal resistance) of insulation is a measure of its ability to resist heat loss or heat gain. The higher the R-value, the better a material insulates. 

An insulation’s R-value is based on its performance with no air movement. The actual R-value in a home setting may be much lower than its rated R-value, especially if air leaks are not sealed or the insulation is not properly installed.

Blown or loose-fill insulation materials will settle after installation, reducing their effective R-value by 10 percent or more. By contrast, dense-pack cellulose for use in wall or floor cavities has negligible settling.

Some types of insulation combine both an air-sealing barrier and insulation in one step. These include  dense-pack cellulose, polyurethane and polyisocyanurate. Some insulation products also act as a vapor retarder, preventing moisture condensation.

Be sure to check the manufacturer’s specifications before you buy insulation and follow the product instructions to ensure adequate long-term coverage.

For more information on home insulation, check out pages 14-20 of the Commerce Department’s Home Energy Guide. The U.S. Department of Energy’s webpage on insulation tells how insulation works and how much your home will need.

Minnesota Energy Tips is provided twice a month by the Minnesota Department of Commerce, Division of Energy Resources. Contact the Commerce Department Energy Information Center at energy.info@state.mn.us or 800-657-3710 with energy questions.

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