$1.049
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May 2007
Padding for Your Home and Your Wallet Is it Time to Add Insulation?

No doubt the warm weather has inspired many homeowners to spruce up their outdoor Could your home benefit from a little extra padding? Insulation is one of the easiest,

Measure the insulation in your home to determine the R-value of existing insulation. If it is below standards, adding insulation could make your home more energy efficient.

most cost-effective ways of increasing your home's energy efficiency as well as saving money on energy bills. Answer these questions to see if insulation may improve your home.

  1. Does your house always seem too cold in the winter and too hot in the summer? If so, it could mean your home is lacking adequate insulation in some key areas. Heat flows naturally from warmer places to cooler ones, which often means heat rises. Without insulation, heat can flow freely in and out of your home, letting warm air escape in winter and letting warm air enter in summer. Insulation decreases heat flow, helping maintain a more uniform and comfortable temperature throughout your home year-round. Because heat rises, you can generally get the best results by ensuring that your attic is properly insulated.

  1. Is your home over 20 years old? It is estimated that around 80 percent of homes built before 1980 are not well insulated. Both old and new homes can benefit from adding insulation, but if you haven't added insulation to your older home, much of your energy may be escaping.

  1. Are any of the following areas in your home lacking insulation: attic, walls, floors, crawl space, basement or garage? If so, you could be losing energy—probably between 10 and 50 percent. Check to see where insulation may be lacking and weigh your options to decide if insulation is worth the investment.

  1. Is the R-value of your existing insulation below standards? R-value is the amount of thermal resistance insulation has; a higher R-value equals better insulation. At the minimum, your insulation should meet local building codes. However, the Department of Energy (DOE) and Energy Star also have recommendations on their websites for suggested R-values for energy efficient home. If your existing insulation does not meet these standards, additional insulation may be a wise investment. You can find out the R-value of existing insulation by determining the type of insulation and the thickness. ZIP-Code, a computer program on the DOE website, can help you calculate the R-value necessary for your home based on where you live and the type of heating/air you have.

  1. Do you plan on building a new home, adding on, or replacing your siding or roof? If so, factor insulation into the plans early on for maximum energy savings and minimum hassle. It can be expensive to retrofit a home with insulation—especially in walls. That's why it's a good idea to get the job done right from the beginning.

  1. Are your energy bills high? Adding insulation to your home can help lower your bills, sometimes paying for itself within a few years' time. Because insulation can help maintain air temperatures, there is also less demand on your heating/cooling system, which can add life to the system (also saving money). Generally, adding insulation in your attic will pay off quickly. However, insulation in floors, crawl spaces, or walls may have longer paybacks. Consider how long you plan to stay in your house and the cost of insulation when deciding where you want to insulate and whether or not it is worth the cost up front.

  1. Do you hear a lot of noise from outside? Excessive noise from outside could mean that there isn't a lot of padding in your walls. If so, insulation could help absorb some of the sound before it gets to you, helping you save money and sleep better at night.
  1. Is there a room (or level) in your house that is always too hot or cold? It may be due to a lack of insulation. For instance, a room over the garage may be several degrees colder than the rest of the house in winter, or several degrees warmer in summer. If the garage is lacking insulation, it may be making the difference. Adding insulation to the garage could make the room temperature more consistent with the rest of the house.

If you answered yes to one or several of these questions, your home could probably use a little extra padding. Insulation can be a do-it-yourself project or can be done by a qualified contractor. For information on choosing the right kind of insulation and installation, visit the DOE website or the Energy Star website.

Good News

You could get a Federal tax incentive for adding insulation to your new or existing home. Homeowners are eligible for a tax credit for a portion of the money they spend on energy efficient upgrades. Visit the IRS website for more information.

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