You Choose: An Interactive Guide to Insulation

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1. You sit at home on a rainy, windy night in April. You have a big day tomorrow—a presentation, an interview, and you need to decide on a new color for your home. All you need is a good night’s sleep, but you toss and turn. A draft blows through your home. You shiver under your quilt, as the New England winter has not said its final goodbyes. You have already turned your heat off, hoping to save some money now that the temperature does not slip into the negatives, but this decision leaves you uncomfortable. Lying there in bed, you think that something must be done. You:

A.) Decide to insulate your home (Go to paragraph 2) or

B.) Ignore your discomfort and add another blanket (Go to paragraph 7).

2. Congratulations! You have taken the first step to a comfortable home that saves you money while reducing your environmental impact. Now, you must choose your insulation type. As all researchers do these days, you go to the ever-trusted Google and try search after search to figure out which contractor to call. You find two insulation companies near you, both with great reviews on Google. One company insulates with spray foam, and the other insulates your home with loose-fill cellulose insulation. You pick up the phone and call:

A.) The cellulose insulator (Go to paragraph 3)

B.) The spray foam insulator (Go to paragraph 4)

3. You call the insulation company that specializes in cellulose to find out some more facts and how to get started. Soon enough, the company arrives at your home to do a free energy audit. They find that insulation in your attic will be most effective, and also suggest air sealing. You consider your attic: messy, full of junk, and a storage place that you only visit for holiday decorations and ski boots. You see this as the perfect opportunity to get rid of your unwanted junk, and finally have the push that you need to clean up your basement storage space. You get down to spring cleaning, and soon enough your attic treasures are safely accessible in your clean basement. The company asks if you would like to air seal to tighten your home. You think about it and decide to:

A.) Air seal (Go to paragraph 6)

B.) Pass on air sealing (Go to paragraph 5)

4. You feel warmer and some of that draft is gone. Your wallet feels better, but the environment certainly does not. Luckily, the company that you called only hires trustworthy professionals. You neighbors were not so lucky, and both got sick from their foam insulation. The mixture was just slightly off, and their health suffers from the mistake. As your home shifts (as all homes do), the foam resists any motion and does not blend with your home’s structure. The R-value (insulation’s effectiveness) is not as high as you could have gotten with other insulation types, because it does not mold to your home, but it is sufficient. By this time next year, the spray foam insulation will start to pull away from your home’s structure. That will take a toll on your wallet.

5. Your home is definitely a lot more comfortable, but the attic insulation did not fully eliminate your draft. The insulation protects your home from letting in the summer’s heat as it pounds on your roof, and from the snow’s chill. While insulation provides a barrier for radiant heat transfer, it does not fully air seal. Give it a few months and you’ll be calling that contractor again to come back and complete your home’s sealing. Go to paragraph 8 for more energy saving tips.

6. You did it! You made all of the right choices to save money, energy and make your home comfortable. Now, you can get a good night’s sleep and be well rested. Needless to say, your future presentations amaze your coworkers, your interview goes well and you get that promotion, and you decide on the perfect color for your house. All of this was possible with the help of home insulation and air sealing. In about four years, you will already have paid back any costs of the installation. Continue on to paragraph 8 for more ways to conserve energy.

7. Well, it was your choice. No insulation, no change. You can either continue to waste energy and money on discomfort, or go back to the beginning and choose a different path. Here’s a hint: choose insulation. See where it could take you. Continue on to paragraph 8 for energy saving tips.

8. While insulation is the best way to save energy in your home, there are other ways to add to this conservation. One way to save energy is to install a programmable thermostat to help regulate your home’s heating and cooling. Also, if you have not yet made the switch to LED light bulbs, consider making it soon. This is a simple way to save energy and reduce your electric bill. In the summer, use your curtains to shade your home from direct sunlight. In the winter, open those blinds to let the sun heat your home. Click here for more easy steps to conserve.

Your home is your sanctuary. Make the right decisions to keep it a comfortable place that is easy on your wallet and the environment. Although your path may not look exactly like this one, let this be a guide for your road to insulation.