Your air conditioner and furnace work hard to keep your home at a comfortable temperature. The HVAC system keeps you cool in summer and warm in winter. But of course, that comfort comes with a cost. Keeping your home at the right temperature can be expensive. Fortunately, there’s a lot you can do to keep those costs down. One way to control your HVAC energy costs is home insulation. A well-insulated house is protected from temperature extremes, so your cooling and heating system doesn’t have to work as hard or use as much energy.
How Home Insulation Controls Your Home’s Temperature and Improves HVAC Efficiency
Insulation Helps Control Temperature
Home insulation works by influencing a process called air exchange, or heat exchange. This process is going on all the time, all around us. It happens at different rates depending on what factors are present to speed it up or slow it down. If you have windows open in your home, air exchange happens faster. When all the windows and doors are shut tight, it’s slower, but it’s still happening.
Another important thing to know is that in an enclosed space, heat flows from the warmer parts of the space to cooler parts. It keeps flowing until the whole space is the same temperature. This means, for instance, that if you’re using your furnace to heat the main living areas in your home, heat will flow from those spaces to unheated areas, such as your garage or attic. Or, if you’re using your air conditioning to stay cool in summer, warm air will continue to flow into your home from outdoors, even as your HVAC works hard to remove heat from the air.
Adding insulation to your house helps your HVAC work more efficiently, both in summer and winter.
Insulation traps heat within its fibers or particles, keeping it where it needs to be.
- In winter insulation helps you stay warm by trapping generated heat and preventing heat loss through walls, floors, and ceilings.
- In summer insulation keeps you cool by trapping the heat that flows in from outside and preventing it from entering the home.
At the same time, your HVAC system is working to distribute heat to where it’s needed. In summer that means the system removes heat and redistributes it outside. In winter either your furnace generates heat or your heat pump traps ambient heat and distributes it through the home.
Insulation Makes Your Air Conditioner and Furnace More Efficient
Knowing how insulation works, you can see how useful it is at helping your HVAC system work optimally. When you have the benefit of a well insulated home, your HVAC doesn’t have to work as hard to maintain the temperature you set your thermostat to.
In winter, as your HVAC generates heat, your home insulation helps keep that heat inside the home. In summer, as your HVAC works to remove heat, the insulation maintains the cooler temperature by preventing heat from penetrating through the roof and walls.
When your home isn’t insulated—or is under-insulated—more heated or cooled air is lost via air exchange. As a result, your central air or furnace has to work to maintain the desired temperature. This extra usage means mechanical parts wear out more quickly and have to be replaced sooner. It also shortens your HVAC’s overall lifespan.
All this means that even though home insulation costs money to purchase and install, it saves you much more in the long term. It extends the lifespan of your HVAC system and lets you maintain a comfortable indoor temperature while using less energy along the way.
Warning Signs of Poor Home Insulation
Your home feels drafty. If your home feels drafty in the winter, it can mean that you’re losing warm air through small holes or air leaks around windows, doors, wall plates, and other areas. A few actions that can help prevent drafts, keeping warm air in and cold air out, include:
- Adding weatherstripping
- Patching cracks and holes
- Installing insulation
- Having your CW Service Professional install an attic access cover
Your home’s walls are cold in winter. When your home’s walls are colder than the temperature in the room, the heat your furnace is generating is dissipating too quickly to actually warm the walls. With proper insulation, your walls should remain closer to the temperature in the rest of the room.
You notice mold or condensation indoors. Internal moisture—leading to condensation —is another issue that can arise due to poor insulation. This happens when windows, pipes, and other fittings or fixtures are consistently colder than the internal air temperature. Good insulation distributes heat more evenly throughout a house, making it less likely for those cold pockets to form.
Your home is too cold in winter and too warm in summer. If your heating and cooling system is in good shape, but your home is still too cold or too hot, there’s a good chance that poor insulation is the cause.
Your energy bills are much higher than they should be. There are multiple home-maintenance issues that can cause high energy bills. The biggest culprits include inefficient and poorly maintained HVAC systems and problems with your hot water system. But if you know your hot water is fine and your HVAC is running optimally, then checking out your insulation is a good next step.
Your Home Insulation Options
To make your home more energy efficient, your home should be insulated from the roof and attic all the way down the walls to the top of the concrete. There are many different spaces in your home that will benefit from insulation.
Types of Insulation
For most spaces, you’ll have at least a couple options for insulating your home, if not more. Each insulation type differs in terms of materials, installation costs, and effectiveness:
- Blanket insulation: This type of insulation comes in the form of batts or rolls and is made of fiberglass, mineral wool, or plastic or natural fibers. It’s suitable for walls, floors, and ceilings.
- Concrete block insulation: These are foam boards, typically installed in new construction on the outsides of exterior walls. In existing homes, they can be installed inside walls during renovations or remodeling.
- Foam board/rigid foam: Made from polystyrene, polyurethane, and other compounds, foam insulation boards can be installed in both interior and exterior walls, including foundation walls and roofs.
- Loose-fill/blown-in: Typically made from cellulose, fiberglass, or mineral wool, this insulation is blown into place in walls and some floors using special equipment. It can be installed in new home construction or in existing homes.
- Spray foam: Made from various compounds, including phenolic and polyurethane, sprayed foam insulation can be sprayed into existing walls and other spaces, including unfinished attic floors. Because the material is sprayed, it’s especially useful for irregularly shaped areas.
- Rigid fiber: Made from fiberglass or mineral wool, this kind of insulation is often used to insulate ductwork because it’s more resistant to high temperatures than other kinds of insulation.
Walls, Floors, Ceiling, and Attic Insulation
Spaces to insulate include:
- All exterior walls, including walls that are located adjacent to an unconditioned space, such as an unheated garage.
- Any floors that are above an unconditioned space; for instance, floors that are above a crawl space or an unheated basement or storage area.
- The foundation, which helps control temperatures and heating costs. Foundation also helps prevent moisture problems and guards against insects.
- The attic. Insulation needs for this space are different depending on whether your attic is finished or unfinished and what it’s used for.
- Cathedral ceilings. Rooms with high ceilings have additional insulation needs. Otherwise, you may find that heating is uneven.
HVAC ductwork is instrumental in getting warmed or cooled air where it needs to be in your home. Leaky ductwork can result in the loss of as much as 30% of the treated air, and this figure only increases if insulation is inadequate.
Duct insulation is most important if the ductwork is located in spaces that are unconditioned. In this case, sealing and insulating all ductwork can contribute to significant energy savings. When building a new home, adding ductwork in conditioned spaces lets you avoid the energy loss that comes with lack of insulation.
Interested in Insulating Your Home HVAC System? Call CW Service Pros
CW Service Pros is the expert at installing and maintaining HVAC ductwork, and that includes insulation. Installing insulation can make a huge difference to the efficiency of your heating and cooling system. It can extend the lifespan of that system too. Insulation will save you money in more ways than one, making it a worthwhile addition to your home! Call CW Service Pros today to learn more about increasing the efficiency of your HVAC system and, in turn, lowering your utility bills.
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