Home insulation often is a matter of out of sight, out of mind, but it can have a major impact on energy loss and heating bills during winter.
The upper floors of a house are particularly important during the insulation process since heat rises, said Randy Rowland, maintenance manager with St. Joseph Housing Authority.
Rowland used to insulate homes often when he was owner of The Dillon Company several years ago, he said.
“Heat rises, so the first and foremost place to put insulation is in the attic,” he said. “You need to sufficiently insulate the attic first and then after the attic the next thing you look at to reduce the cold is doors and windows.”
Since heat rises, looking at a home’s attic provides context about how well it’s insulated, Brandt Fuel Savers owner Matt Brandt said.
“You lose about 60% of your energy out of your attic,” he said. “When it snows and it’s heavy snow, and it’s cold outside, see whose roof melts first — the snow off the roof — and you’ll know who doesn’t have insulation.”
The benefits of insulation also can vary by the home. The older a home is, the more important it is to be well-insulated, Rowland said.
“Insulation will fall, it will compact and fall,” he said. “So you’re actually, if you have an older home and people say, ‘Well, the walls are insulated,’ that may be, but that insulation no longer goes from ceiling to floor. It goes about halfway because during the years it has actually fallen down and compacted itself on the lower part of the walls.”
People can minimize how much insulation settles if they use the right materials, Brandt said. He uses stabilized cellulose insulation, which is supposed to hold its form better and not settle over time.
“Once you insulate with the proper product, and a more energy-efficient product, then there really should be no reason to go back and have to touch it up down the road,” he said.
Effective insulation can save around $60 a month on energy bills, so it’s about viewing the payment as an investment, Rowland said. It isn’t usually immediate, but if residents are patient then the difference in savings can make their money back in five to 10 years, he said.