Homeowners’ Frequently Asked Questions

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By Chris Balzer

Chris Balzer

What does R-value mean?  R-value measures insulation’s resistance to heat flow.  It can also be referred to as “thermal resistance.” The higher the R-value, the greater the insulating power.  All materials having the same R-value, regardless of type, thickness, or weight are equal in insulating power. Don’t forget that R-values are determined by material type, thickness, and installed weight per square foot, not by thickness alone. Insulation helps keep your home cool during the summer months and warm during the winter months.

How much will I save by adding insulation to the walls, ceilings and floors of my home?  Insulation saves money, increases home comfort and protects the environment by reducing energy use. According to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) 44% of a homeowner’s utility bill goes for heating and cooling costs. DOE states that homeowners may be able to reduce their energy bills from 10% to 50% by taking certain steps. One of the major steps is increasing the amount of thermal insulation in their existing homes or purchasing additional insulation when buying new homes. Unless your home was constructed with special attention to energy efficiency, adding insulation will reduce your utility bills. The amount of energy you conserve will depend on several factors:  your climate; the size, shape, and construction of your house, the living habits of your family, the type and efficiency of the heating and cooling systems and the fuel you use. Energy conserved is money saved and the annual savings increases when utility rates go up, which on average is 3.9% yearly. Insulation upgrades also add to the value of your home.

How much insulation should I have?  “Insulation,” says Bob Vila, host of the nationally syndicated TV program that bears his name, “is the most efficient energy-saving expenditure.”   Vila says homeowners should check attics to determine the amount of insulation already installed. “Most homes built before 1980 have inadequate insulation,”  he said, noting that if insulation between the joists of the attic floor comes only to the top of the joist, it probably makes sense to install more insulation.  The U.S. Department of Energy recommends home insulation for our area to be R-30.

What words should I watch out for in contracts or job estimates?   Once you have chosen an insulation contractor, make sure the contract includes the job specification, cost and warranty information. The contract should list the type of insulation to be used and where it will be used. Make sure that each type of insulation is listed by R-value. Beware of any contract or verbal offering that quotes the job in terms of thickness only (e.g. “14 inches of insulation”).   Remember, it is the R-value — not the thickness — that tells how well a material insulates. Avoid contracts with vague language such as R-values with the terms “plus or minus”; “+ or -“; “average”; or “nominal.”

Chris Balzer is Founder and President of Emerald Coast Energy Solutions and resides in the Santa Rosa Beach area with his wife and 3 Children.  For more information on how to save  and become energy efficient schedule a free inspection by calling (850) 588-2870, visit www.trusteces.com or email wecare@trusteces.com and Beat the Heat.

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