How much insulation should my home have?

Answered by Brett Kulina ~ October 12, 2012 ~ No Comments

My upstairs is always hot in summer and cold in winter. I have no access to the attic area to check out what's up there. Where should I start looking to solve the problem?

Brett Kulina

If your house is cold in the winter and hot in the summer, then chances are you need not look any further that the quality of your home's insulation. The designed purpose of proper house insulation is to help keep the sun's heat out of your living space in the summer time, while helping to retain the heat generated by your home's furnace during the winter. Keep in mind that the U.S. Department of Energy estimates that only 20 percent of homes built before 1980 have adequate insulation, so your problem is a common one.

Although it would be difficult for you to determine the amount of insulation in your home's wall cavity without cutting a hole in the wall, you should be able to find an access hatch to your home's attic so that you can evaluate its ceiling insulation. If you find that your home's attic was not properly insulated when the home was first constructed, then chances are the walls are going to be problem areas as well.

Other factors that can lead to an uncomfortable home are non-insulated single-pane windows, an older inefficient furnace, as well as deteriorating exterior siding and caulking. Although you should evaluate these items on your home as well, your best bet is probably to start with the insulation. As energy prices increase, creating a comfortable, energy-efficient house is a worthwhile goal for any homeowner that is looking to save a few dollars and help to conserve natural resources.

Here is a useful booklet with the energy guidelines and insulation specifications for your local area. Once you determine how well your home is insulated, then you can decide how best to solve any problems. Remember, new insulation can easily be blown into existing wall cavities and installed in hard-to-reach areas of a home's attic, so even if your house was not built energy efficient to begin with, it certainly can be upgraded now.

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