opens thick curtains of bedroom window

The Purpose of Insulation: Conserve Energy and Save Costs

Whether you’re building a new home from the ground up or looking to improve your current house, you may have a burning question on your mind: What is the purpose of insulation?

The short answer? While the main purpose is to create comfortable temperatures in your home, Insulation also allows you to spend less on heating by keeping energy usage down.

The long answer? Well, you could always call your local insulation contractor, or continue reading for a more detailed answer.

What Insulation Does

It’s easy enough to say that insulation regulates the temperature in your home, to save money and energy. But how

In order to understand what insulation does and how to cool an attic efficiently, it’s important to first understand one key principle of thermodynamics (don’t worry, we’ll keep it short and sweet). It boils down to this—heat moves naturally towards cooler areas. In the warmer months, heat tries to enter your home, while in the winter, it tries to exit your home.1

Essentially, insulation of all kinds hinders the heat flow in and out of a building. Insulation acts as a barrier to slow the transfer of heat energy from one place to another. Since less air is entering or escaping your house, your climate control system won’t need to work as hard.

It may help to think of home insulation like a beverage koozie—you can use it to keep your cold drinks perfectly chilled and warm drinks piping hot, whatever the weather. 

The Science Behind Insulation

As you may recall from high school science class, heat moves in one of three ways:

  • Convection – Warm air or liquid rises; cool air sinks. That movement creates a circular pattern known as convection. This phenomenon is why the top few inches of a pool always feel warmer.
  • Conduction – Conduction is the transfer of heat in solid objects; from surface to surface. When you touch a hot pizza, you’re experiencing conductive heat.
  • Radiation – Radiant heat moves in a straight line as an electromagnetic wave. Examples include heat from a raging fire or the sun’s light.

Most insulation protects predominantly against the first two types of heat.2 Traditional insulation designed for this purpose can be made of various materials, including:

  • Fiberglass
  • Foam
  • Cellulose
  • Mineral wool

To impede radiant heat, you can use a reflective insulation material like aluminum; think of those metallic screens you see on the windshields of parked cars.

Each insulation material has its advantages and drawbacks, but they all fulfill the same purpose: controlling temperature by blocking heat energy.

3 Key Benefits of Insulation

By regulating your home’s internal temperature, insulation does far more than reduce your monthly energy bill. There are a handful of other reasons to increase your home’s insulation levels.

1. Improved Comfort

As mentioned, insulation conserves energy by blocking unwanted heat from entering or exiting the home. The main benefit: it makes your home more pleasant.

By keeping heat out in the summer, your insulation helps you stay cool. In the winter, insulation traps the warm air generated by furnaces and body heat, maintaining a cozy environment for you and your family.

2. Noise Reduction

When paired with high-efficiency windows, insulation can work as a method of soundproofing.3 While a layer of pink, cotton candy-like material won’t be enough to turn your home into a professional recording studio, you can still use it to greatly decrease the levels of airborne and structure-borne noise.

3. A Smaller Carbon Footprint

Conserving energy isn’t just a plus for your wallet; it’s an environmental win, too. Residential and commercial buildings consume a substantial amount of energy. By shifting toward more efficient designs in new and existing homes, we can cut emissions dramatically.

One of the easiest ways to improve new and existing builds is insulation. Because insulation helps regulate your home’s temperature, your heaters and air conditioners don’t need to run as frequently. What’s the outcome? Lower energy consumption and, as a result, fewer greenhouse gas emissions.

Installing insulation is one of many ways to improve your home efficiency and save energy.

Quick Tips for Insulating Your Home

There are countless ways to conserve energy in your home using insulating materials. Let’s discuss a few of these money-saving tips.

Keep Your Attic Insulated

Unless you’ve built a secret hideaway, you probably don’t spend your leisure time in your attic. But that shouldn’t stop you from adding a layer of attic insulation to the uppermost level of your home.

Recall that air rises as it warms. If your attic isn’t insulated, where does your newly warmed travel? That’s right: up and out of the house. 

Attic insulation is an affordable, straightforward way to keep your home feeling cozy in the colder months. For additional cooling efficiency, consider air sealing your attic

Insulate Your Pipes

Energy loss through heat transfer doesn’t end with the air you condition. Hot water can also cool down as it travels through your pipes. When it does, you may end up:

  • Wasting water by leaving the tap on longer (waiting for it to heat up)
  • Using hotter water than you need (and therefore more energy)

Cover your water pipes in an insulating material, and you could see an annual energy savings of 3-4%.4

Install Window Treatments

When you think of home insulation, you might envision opening your walls and filling them with spray foam insulation or fiberglass batt insulation. But in reality, any material that impedes heat transfer is a form of insulation.

One way to insulate your home without donning a hard hat is to cover up your windows. Touch a wall during the winter, then touch a pane of glass. You’ll quickly feel that the (very cold) glass doesn’t insulate as well as the wall.

To counteract this phenomenon, you can hang curtains, shades, or other materials in front of your windows. These fabrics act as impermanent insulation that will regulate your home’s temperature.

Insulate Your Home with Attic Construction

Hoping to insulate your attic but not sure where to start? That’s where we come in.

At Attic Construction, we know all about insulating the top portion of your house—it’s even in our name! If you want to conserve energy, save money, and make your home as comfortable as possible, get in touch with us today.

 

Sources: 

  1. Insulation Institute. How Home Insulation Works. https://insulationinstitute.org/im-a-homeowner/about-insulation/how-home-insulation-works/ 
  2. Energy.gov. How Insulation Works. https://www.energy.gov/energysaver/insulation 
  3. Attic Construction. Is Attic Insulation Soundproof? https://atticconstruction.com/blog/is-attic-insulation-soundproof/ 
  4. Energy.gov. Do-It-Yourself Savings Project: Insulate Hot Water Pipes. https://www.energy.gov/energysaver/do-it-yourself-savings-project-insulate-hot-water-pipes 

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