Cold to Hot: Insulate to Protect

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We New Englanders experience it all. We feel below-zero winters, mild spring days, and tropical summer heat waves. While homeowners in more consistent climates know the elements most likely to impact their homes, we need to protect against both of the extremes. Luckily, insulation does more than simply keep us warm in the winter. Loose-fill cellulose insulation also helps to cool our homes in the summer.

Many homeowners consider insulation simply a sealing blanket for the home in the fall and winter. Some view insulation as a material that just keeps the heat in your home year-round. Although loose-fill cellulose is highly effective at warming your home in the winter, the cellulose’s function changes along with the seasons. Mike Rogers, who works for Green Homes America, makes the analogy that an insulated home is like an insulated mug. It keeps hot coffee hot, and cold coffee cold, by creating a barrier between the coffee and the external temperature. A home insulated with cellulose does the same thing: keeps your heat inside in the winter, and your cool air inside throughout the summer.

Insulation holds the same benefits in the summer as it does in the winter. In the summer, insulation blocks your home’s comfortable internal temperature from the outside heat. By keeping the wanted cool air inside, insulation increases your comfort and lowers your summer energy bills as it conserves energy.

Although more insulation is often better, people argue against this technique and claim that it is not cost-effective. On the contrary, higher R-values that come with proper insulation make perfect sense for many reasons. First, more insulation saves more energy. In the summer, attics can heat to almost 50 degrees F above the outside temperature. If you are trying to keep your home around 75 degrees F on a 90 degree F day, there is a pretty big split between your regulated air and your attic temperature. Insulation reduces the flow of unwanted heat into your 75 degree home. Without proper insulation, your attic acts like a giant heater in the summer. Insulation helps your air conditioners and fans do their job to keep your home cool.

The second benefit that extra insulation gives you deals with the insulation process. For every job, there are a number of fixed costs such as driving the truck and crew to your home, accessing the attic, protecting finishes, and cleaning up at the end. The actual installation is generally the quickest part of the job. So, if you are insulating your home anyways, it simply makes sense to get the extra insulation then instead of later—do it right the first time. Also, if you make the effort to insulate, be sure to take the time to air seal as well. This will further reduce unwanted air movement through your home.

Third, insulating your home is more than simply saving energy and money. When you insulate, you choose comfort. Homeowners care about the cost-effectiveness and payback, but personal comfort is ultimately the base of all insulation jobs. We insulate to save energy and money because we strive to keep our home at a comfortable temperature. By claiming control over your home’s temperature through insulating and air sealing, you control your comfort.

In both hot and cold climates—or our ever-changing New England weather—insulation protects your home. The outside weather stays outside, and your regulated air keeps you comfortable. To prepare for the seemingly-distant summer heat, or to protect your home from the current cold, contact Dolphin today.