For optimal energy efficiency, your home should be properly insulated from the roof down to its foundation. The illustration above shows all the areas of the home where there should be insulation. The numbered areas shown in the illustration are as follows:
1. In unfinished attic spaces, insulate between and over the floor joists to seal off living spaces below. If the air distribution is in the attic space, then consider insulating the rafters to move the distribution into the conditioned space.
(1A). Insulate the attic access door
2. In finished attic rooms with or without dormers, insulate (2A) between the studs of "knee" walls, (2B) between the studs and rafters of the exterior walls and the roof, (2C) and ceilings with unconditioned spaces above.
(2D) Extend insulation into joist space to reduce air flows.
3. Insulate all exterior walls, including (3A) walls between living spaces and unheated garages, shed roofs, or storage areas; (3B) foundation walls above ground level; (3C) foundation walls in heated basements.
4. Apply insulation to floors above unconditioned spaces, such as vented crawl spaces and unheated garages. Also insulate (4A) any portion of the floor in a room that is cantilevered beyond the exterior wall below; (4B) slab floors built directly on the ground; (4C) as an alternative to floor insulation, foundation walls of unvented crawl spaces. (4D) Extend insulation into joist space to reduce air flows.
5. Do not forget to insulate the band joists.
6. Caulk and seal around all windows and doors.
In addition to insulation, considermoisture and air leakage controlin each area of your house. If radon is an issue where you live, you’ll also need to considerradonandradon-resistant constructiontechniques as you research foundation insulation options. In addition, if you live in an area with termites, you’ll have to consider how termite protection will affect the choice and placement of insulation in your home and plan for a means of inspection.
Examples of where to insulate.
Oak Ridge National Laboratory
Loose-fill or batt insulation is typically installed in an attic. Loose-fill insulation is usually less expensive to install than batt insulation, and provides better coverage when installed properly. See more on differenttypes of insulation.
To find out if you have enough attic insulation, measure the thickness of the insulation. If it is less than an equivalent of R-30 (about 10 to 13 inches), you could probably benefit by adding more.Before insulating, seal any air leaks and make roof and other necessary repairs. If it is located in a conditioned part of the house, also remember to insulate and air seal your attic access.
Insulate and air seal any knee walls -- vertical walls with attic space directly behind them -- in your home as well. In addition, if you're building a new home or remodeling, make sure any attic decking that provides additional storage space or a platform for a heating and/or cooling unit or hot water tank is raised above the ceiling joists to leave room for adequate insulation. If the air distribution system is not within the conditioned space but within the attic, insulating the rafters will enclose the distribution system. Finally, if you live in a hot or warm climate, consider installing aradiant barrierin your attic rafters to reduce summer heat gain.
If the ducts in your home are in unconditioned space, seal and insulate them. If you’re building a new house, place ducts in the conditioned space to avoid the energy losses associated with mostduct systems.
Cathedral Ceiling Insulation
Properly insulating your cathedral ceilings will allow ceiling temperatures to remain closer to room temperatures, providing an even temperature distribution throughout the house. Cathedral ceilings must provide space between the roof deck and home’s ceiling for adequate insulation and ventilation. This can be achieved through the use of truss joists, scissor truss framing, or sufficiently large rafters. For example, cathedral ceilings built with 2x12 rafters have space for standard 10-inch batts (R-30) and ventilation. Unvented (hot roof design) cathedral ceilings are also an option. The hot roof design allows more insulation to be installed in the roof cavity as the need for a vent space is eliminated. It is important that the roof cavity be totally air sealed from the conditioned space below to prevent moisture intrusion and roof degradation.
Foil-faced batt insulation is often used in cathedral ceilings because it provides the permeability rating often required for use in ceilings without attics. A vent baffle should be installed between the insulation and the roof decking to maintain the ventilation channel.
Consider using high-density R-30 batts, which are as thick as R-25 batts, but fit into 2x10 framing. You can also add rigid foam insulation under the rafters, which adds R-value and eliminates thermal bridging through wood rafters. However, rigid foam insulation must be covered with a fire-rated material when used on the interior of a building. Half-inch drywall is usually sufficient, but check with local building officials before installing.
Exterior Wall Insulation
If your attic has enough insulation and proper air sealing, and your home still feels drafty and cold in the winter or too warm in the summer, chances are you need to add insulation to the exterior walls. This is more expensive and usually requires a contractor, but it may be worth the cost—especially if you live in a very cold climate. If you replace the exterior siding on your home, consider adding insulation at the same time.
In an existing home, consider using blow-in insulation, which, when installed with the dense pack technique, will provide a higher R-value. It can be added to exterior walls without much disturbance to finished areas of your home. If you’re remodeling and your wall cavities will be open, look into two-part spray foam or wet spray cellulose insulation. If your wall cavities are not going to be open, you could consider injectable spray foam insulation. If you’ll be doing the work yourself, blanket (batt and roll) insulation, while not capable of providing an air seal as and two-part spray foam will, may be an affordable option.
In a new home, first see our information aboutinsulating a new home, which will help you choose from among the manytypes of insulationon the market. If you’re in the design phase of planning your new home, consider structural insulated panels, insulating concrete forms, and insulated concrete blocks. These materials literally have insulation built in, and houses built using these products often have superior insulating qualities and minimal thermal bridging.
If you’re building a traditional framed house, consider usingadvanced wall framing techniques. These techniques improve the whole-wallR-valueby reducing thermal bridging and maximizing the insulated wall area.
Also consider using insulating foam wall sheathing rather than wood sheathing products, as they provide superior R-value. Foam sheathing:
- Provides a continuous layer of insulation, which reduces thermal bridging through wood studs, saving energy and improving comfort.
- Is easier to cut and install than heavier sheathing products.
- Protects against condensation on the inside wall by keeping the interior of the wall closer to the interior conditions.
- Usually costs less than plywood or oriented strand board (OSB).
If you replace plywood or OSB with foam sheathing, your walls will require bracing or other structural reinforcement.
Insulating Floors Above Unheated Garages
When insulating floors above unconditioned garages, firstsealall possible sources of air leakage. This strategy has the added benefit of minimizing the danger of contaminants (from car exhaust, paint, solvents, gardening supplies, etc.) in the garage migrating into the conditioned space. Also install anair barrierto prevent cold air in the garage from "short circuiting" the insulation underneath the subfloor.
A properly insulated basement can save you money on heating and provide a dry, comfortable living space. In most cases, a basement with insulation installed on its exterior walls should be considered a conditioned space. Even in a house with an unconditioned basement, the basement is more connected to other living spaces than to the outside, which makes basement wall insulation preferable to ceiling insulation.
In new construction, adding insulation on the exterior of the basement walls will do the following:
- Minimize thermal bridging and reduce heat loss through the foundation
- Protect the damp-proof coating from damage during backfilling
- Provide some protection against moisture intrusion
- Make the foundation part of the thermal mass of the conditioned space, thereby reducing interior temperature swings
- Reduce the potential for condensation on surfaces in the basement
- Conserve room area, relative to installing insulation on the interior.
In an existing home, adding insulation to the exterior of the basement walls is impractical. Interior basement wall insulation has the following advantages:
- It is much less expensive to install than exterior insulation for existing buildings.
- Almost any insulation type can be used.
- It eliminates the threat of insect infestation.
Here are a few things to consider when installing interior basement wall insulation:
- Many insulation types require a fire-rated covering because they release toxic gases when ignited.
- Interior insulation reduces usable interior space by a few inches.
- It doesn't protect the damp-proof coating like exterior insulation does.
- If perimeter drainage is poor, the insulation may become saturated by moisture weeping through foundation walls.
- Superior air-sealing details andvapor diffusion retardersare important for adequate performance.
To determine appropriate R-values for basement walls in your area, use theseR-value recommendations. Then choose thetype of insulation:
- Blanket (batt and roll) insulation
- Insulating concrete blocks (new construction)
- Foam board insulation
- Insulating concrete forms (new construction)
- Loose-fill insulation
- Sprayed foam insulation (good choice for finished basements).
Moisture controlis particularly important for basements, because they are notorious for problems with water intrusion, humidity, and mold.
In addition to reducing heating costs, a properly insulated foundation will keep below-grade rooms more comfortable and prevent moisture problems, insect infestation, and radon infiltration. In new construction, consider construction techniques that provide both foundation structure and insulation, such as insulating concrete forms and insulating concrete blocks.
During the construction process, many builders insulate the outside of foundation walls before backfilling. This strategy is possible but impractical and disruptive for existing homes. Optimal foundation insulation materials and placement vary by climate, so consult alocal insulation professionalif you’re planning a new home.
How you insulate a crawlspace depends on whether it's ventilated or unventilated. Most building codes require vents to aid in removing moisture from the crawlspace. However, many building professionals now recognize that building an unventilated crawlspace (or closing vents after the crawlspace dries out following construction) is the best option in homes in hot and humid climatesusing proper moisture control and exterior drainage techniques.
If you have or will have an unventilated crawlspace, the best approach is to seal and insulate the foundation walls rather than the floor between the crawlspace and the house. This strategy has the advantage of keeping piping and ductwork within the conditioned volume of the house so these building components don't require insulation for energy efficiency or protection against freezing. The downside of this strategy is that rodents, pests, or water can damage the insulation and the crawlspace must be built airtight and theair barriermaintained.Cover the ground with a thick vapor barrier to reduce moisture entering the crawlspace from the ground.It’s best to locate the access door to the crawlspace inside the home through the subfloor unless you build and maintain an airtight, insulated access door in the perimeter wall.
Cold concrete slabs can be a source of discomfort in a home. A home with an insulated slab is easier to heat, and placing the mass of the slab within your home’s thermal envelope helps moderate indoor temperatures.
Insulating a slab in an existing home can be expensive and disruptive, but if the slab in your home is cold it is possible to dig around the perimeter of the house and install insulation, usually foam board. In most parts of the United States, insulating the exterior edge of a slab can reduce heating bills by 10% to 20%.
Installing slab insulation during the construction process is more straightforward. Slab insulation, typically foam board, is installed either directly against the exterior of the slab and footing before backfilling or under the slab and along the inside of the stem wall of the foundation. Construction details vary widely, so it’s best to consult a building professional in your area. Building America’sclimate-specific publicationsalso have useful construction details for different climate zones.
Termites can tunnel undetected through exterior slab insulation to gain access to the wood framing in a home's walls. As a result, some insurance companies won't guarantee homes with slab insulation against termites. Building codes in several southern U.S. states prohibit installing foam insulation in contact with the ground. Slab foundations with interior insulation provide more termite resistance, but some builders in the southeastern United States have even reported termite infestations through foam insulation on contained slabs.
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Arguably the most important space in the home to insulate is the attic. This is primarily because heat naturally rises, which means that the attic will hold a lot of the heat generated in the home. During the winter, having that heat escape through the attic will push up energy bills.Where should you not put insulation? ›
Do not use fiberglass insulation in basements. Fiberglass traps mold well and basements are notorious for having moisture problems. Instead, use closed cell foam board and spray for basement installation. Never place insulation close to water heaters, oil burners or anything hot.Where is insulation most effective in an assembly? ›
It is more effective to install insulation over the surface of the blocks either on the exterior or interior of the foundation walls. Placing insulation on the exterior has the added advantage of containing the thermal mass of the blocks within the conditioned space, which can moderate indoor temperatures.Is empty space the best insulator? ›
With its complete lack of atoms, a vacuum is often considered to be the best known insulator.Is it more important to insulate walls or ceiling? ›
As for attic vs. wall insulation, always go for the attic. The largest pay back will be seen here. You would stop heat loss from natural convection and block solar gain (an increase in heat) in the attic, which can result in energy savings of 30 to 50 percent.Is it better to insulate ceiling or roof? ›
If you are deciding between insulating the roof deck or the ceiling, Insulating your ceiling should be the priority. Not only is it easier but ceiling insulation is beneficial in a number of ways: Keeps the temperature in the building regulated. Saves on energy costs.Where do you put insulation in a house? ›
Insulate all exterior walls, including (3A) walls between living spaces and unheated garages, shed roofs, or storage areas; (3B) foundation walls above ground level; (3C) foundation walls in heated basements. 4. Apply insulation to floors above unconditioned spaces, such as vented crawl spaces and unheated garages.What part of the house do you insulate first? ›
You should insulate all exterior walls. This even includes walls that are between living spaces and unheated spaces such as an unheated garage. Floors – You should also consider insulating the floors of your home. This can help stop air from leaking between floors or even into the ground.Should inside walls be insulated? ›
Insulating interior walls isn't absolutely necessary, but it does offer a number of benefits. It controls noise, improves energy efficiency, provides fire protection, and reduces the risk of moisture problems.Should I insulate my attic floor or ceiling? ›
The floor wins every time. Insulating the floor is standard practice for an unfinished attic space. The exception to this rule takes place when families opt to convert an unfinished attic space into something usable or livable.
Generally speaking, you only need to insulate the ground floor. If you're on an upper floor, you don't usually need to insulate your floor space. However, you should consider insulating any floors that are above unheated spaces such as garages, as you could be losing a lot of heat through those.Are you supposed to insulate floors? ›
Floors above cold spaces—like vented crawl spaces and unheated garages—should be insulated, but don't forget about under the flooring. This will help ensure maximum energy efficiency for your home. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, it's ideal to insulate: Slab floors built directly on the ground.What is the world's best insulator? ›
The best insulator in the world right now is most probably aerogel, with silica aerogels having thermal conductivities of less than 0.03 W/m*K in atmosphere. of aerogel preventing ice from melting on a hot plate at 80 degrees Celsius!How do you insulate a cold wall from the inside? ›
Internal wall insulation is done by fitting rigid insulation boards to the wall, or by building a stud wall filled in with insulation material such as mineral wool fibre. Internal insulation: Is generally cheaper to install than external wall insulation.Is water or air a better insulator? ›
On the question of insulation, air is a far better insulator that either water or ice. In point of fact, it is the standard to which all other insulating materials is compared.Can you over insulate a house? ›
It is possible to over-insulate your house so much that it can't breathe. The whole point of home insulation is to tightly seal your home's interior. But if it becomes too tightly sealed with too many layers of insulation, moisture can get trapped inside those layers. That's when mold starts to grow.How can I insulate my house cheaply? ›
- Draught-proof your home. ...
- Insulate your pipework. ...
- Invest in a smart thermostat. ...
- Change your curtains or blinds. ...
- Fit carpets with underlay. ...
- Move your furniture around. ...
- Increase your roof and loft insulation. ...
- Install better floor insulation.
By insulating your ceiling, you avoid heat losses and an unnecessarily high energy bill. Warm air rises, but by means of ceiling insulation you can keep the warmth inside and reduce sounds. It is an efficient and quite cheap way to improve the energy performance of your house.What parts of the attic should be insulated? ›
In an unfinished attic, the goal of insulation is to keep the rooms below cool in summer and warm in winter. That means insulating the attic floor only—not the walls—and having vents in the roof. With a finished attic, insulation must help keep the attic areas comfortable.What is the best way to insulate a home? ›
Spray foam insulation is the most energy-efficient insulation to create an air barrier in the attic. Certain spray foams can expand up to 100 times its original size, so it fills all of the nooks and crannies in the attic.
Experts usually advise builders that you can't install fiberglass insulation directly against the underside of roof sheathing.Should attic ceiling be insulated? ›
Should you insulate your attic roof? Insulation is a wise choice to increase the energy efficiency of your home. Quality insulation will make it more cost-effective to heat and cool your home, The Department of Energy's estimates range from a 10% to 50% savings, depending on several factors.How do you insulate a room without removing the drywall? ›
Injection foam insulation is the answer to insulating walls without removing drywall. There are several types of injection foam available out there, including the RetroFoam product we use. These materials don't require the drywall in your home to be taken down.How do you insulate a cold room? ›
- Check for Drafts. ...
- Use Warmer Bedding. ...
- Reverse the Ceiling Fan. ...
- Try a Space Heater. ...
- Move Your Bed Away From the Window. ...
- Lay Down a Thick Area Rug. ...
- Cover the Windows. ...
- Use a Hot Water Bottle or Bed Heater.
Can you over insulate your attic? The answer is yes! Past a certain point, insulation in a vented attic will do more harm than good. In most of the United States, achieving an R-Value of 38 is more than sufficient.Should you insulate basement walls? ›
Walls. Basement walls should be insulated with non-water sensitive insulation that prevents interior air from contacting cold basement surfaces—the concrete structural elements and the rim joist framing.Should you insulate basement ceiling? ›
Yes—in most cases insulating your basement is a good idea because it will pay dividends down the road. Not only does wall insulation help keep your home warmer but it may also help soundproof the space.Why are the walls in my house so cold? ›
If there is a cold room in your house, the problem has likely been caused by dirty vents, cracked ductwork, worn insulation or faint drafts. Read on to learn how to fix a cold room in your home.Should you insulate bathroom walls? ›
Proper insulation will help keep your bathrooms a comfortable temperature year-round. Bathroom projects need special consideration because of the humidity and moisture that bathrooms generate. When moisture becomes trapped in walls, mold and mildew can grow, damaging your home and presenting a potential health danger.Is it better to insulate walls from outside or inside? ›
Interior insulation is cost effective, but can reduce usable space and doesn't protect against water. Exterior insulation is expensive and susceptible to insects. Regardless of the insulation choice, efficiency, toxicity and resiliency must all be taken into account as well.
The Differences Between Blown-in and Rolled Insulation
In terms of R-value, they tend to be equal, although you can choose rolled insulation with varying R-values depending on your needs and your budget. The lower the R-value is, the less effective it will be as insulation – although it will be cheaper as well.
One of the places in your home where a little bit of attention can make a big difference in your comfort — and heating bill — is the attic. According to the Department of Energy, properly insulating the attic can save 10 to 50 percent on a typical heating bill.Should you insulate your roof rafters? ›
Insulating between rafters will do no good, because the attic should be ventilated, and the rafter insulation would be between two unheated spaces. You can add insulation to the floor; the more the merrier. Just don't put it in the eaves. Also, make sure the attic is well ventilated.How much heat is lost through the floor? ›
More than 10 percent of an average home's heat is lost through the floor. through the floor. This percentage can be much higher depending on your home floor's material.Should floor joists be insulated? ›
The idea that heat rises has prevented many builders in the past from insulating floors, but adding insulation for floor joists can actually improve a home's energy efficiency as well as its insulating capabilities.What is the best way to insulate a wooden floor underneath? ›
Unfaced batts are often a good choice for subfloor insulation. This material creates a reliable vapor barrier, and can easily be attached with metal rods, netting, or plywood boards. Some areas under the floor are more difficult to access, such as crawlspaces or places where pipes are running overhead.Do wood floors make a house colder? ›
If you're worried about hardwood floors being cold on the feet, don't be; they're actually better for keeping your home warm. Hardwood floors help heat move through your home. The bottom line is that wood is a conductor, and the carpet is an insulator.What is the cheapest way to insulate a floor? ›
Polyester and fiberglass are the cheapest insulation materials. They also act as acoustic barriers but are poor barriers to rising damp. Aside from price, their main advantage is that they allow a wooden floor to expand and contract during temperature changes, called “breathing”, and avoid buckling and splintering.Why are my wood floors so cold? ›
Air Leaks and Drafts
Hot air rises naturally, so as it rises from the lower floors of your home it can pull cold air in from outside. This cold air easily enters through tiny leaks or holes in your home's exterior, commonly found in the foundation, sill plates, windows, or doors.
The best insulators for keeping the water hot were cotton and plastic while the worst two insulators for keeping the water hot were the aluminum foil and the bubble wrap. Overall, it was found that the best insulator was cotton while the worst insulator was the bubble wrap.
A wool-acrylic blend is the best fabric blend for keeping you warm, followed by cotton-acrylic. Cotton trousers will scientifically keep more heat in your body than denim.Why do my walls sweat in winter? ›
What causes condensation? Condensation occurs when hot, moist air hits cold, dry air. This meeting causes water droplets to form on the cold surfaces (like your walls). This kind of moisture is what you'll find on the bathroom walls after a super-hot shower.Does internal wall insulation cause condensation? ›
Internal wall insulation changes the fabric of your home, and can, if not employed properly, cause issues such as damp and condensation.Is Styrofoam a good insulator? ›
Sometimes polystyrene foam is called Styrofoam but this is a trademarked name, not the technical name. In its expanded form, polystyrene has low thermal conductivity which makes it a great insulator.Is Styrofoam a good insulator for cold? ›
A Styrofoam cooler does a good job of keeping things cold because the material is a poor conductor of heat. A closed container of Styrofoam creates a “cold zone” into which heat from the outside enters at a very slow rate.What makes good insulation? ›
Polystyrene and plastic foam are both used as insulators as they have small air bubbles trapped inside them. This makes them very good insulators because heat energy can't flow through them. The same idea is used to keep the inside of buildings warm.Should I insulate my attic floor or ceiling? ›
The floor wins every time. Insulating the floor is standard practice for an unfinished attic space. The exception to this rule takes place when families opt to convert an unfinished attic space into something usable or livable.Should I insulate my living room ceiling? ›
By insulating your ceiling, you avoid heat losses and an unnecessarily high energy bill. Warm air rises, but by means of ceiling insulation you can keep the warmth inside and reduce sounds. It is an efficient and quite cheap way to improve the energy performance of your house.How important is it to insulate the floor? ›
Without insulation, heat and cool air are easily lost through the floor. Insulation also helps to preserve the air quality and reduce energy costs. There are two types of crawl spaces - ventilated and unventilated - and each requires its own form of insulation.Do you need to insulate between floors? ›
Generally speaking, you only need to insulate the ground floor. If you're on an upper floor, you don't usually need to insulate your floor space. However, you should consider insulating any floors that are above unheated spaces such as garages, as you could be losing a lot of heat through those.
It's possible to over-insulate an attic as too much will cause moisture buildup and eventually result in mold. Eventually, adding more insulation leads to diminishing returns in trapping heat as well.Can you over-insulate a house? ›
It is possible to over-insulate your house so much that it can't breathe. The whole point of home insulation is to tightly seal your home's interior. But if it becomes too tightly sealed with too many layers of insulation, moisture can get trapped inside those layers. That's when mold starts to grow.Should interior walls be insulated? ›
Insulated interior walls will prevent large temperature swings that can crack drywall. These insulated rooms will also hold their temperature longer. For rooms that aren't used frequently, like guest rooms or storage rooms, interior wall insulation can reduce heat transfer and help you save on your utility bill.Can you put insulation against roof? ›
Despite the common advice to install insulation under your roof, this can do much more harm than good for your home. Any good roofer will advise against roof insulation whenever possible, in favor of attic floor insulation and attic ventilation instead.How can I insulate my house cheaply? ›
- Draught-proof your home. ...
- Insulate your pipework. ...
- Invest in a smart thermostat. ...
- Change your curtains or blinds. ...
- Fit carpets with underlay. ...
- Move your furniture around. ...
- Increase your roof and loft insulation. ...
- Install better floor insulation.
Your building codes may require you to have a certain quality of insulation. However, installing even better insulation is to your advantage and your roof's advantage. Although, over-insulation can heat your shingles and shorten their life span. This is especially the case if your roof also lacks proper airflow.What is the best way to insulate floors? ›
High performance insulation panels or boards are often the best materials to insulate an existing concrete slab floor as they provide the best thermal performance at any given thickness.How do I make my cold floor warmer? ›
You can warm up cold floors with insulation. The simplest way to insulate the floor is by placing area rugs on it. The insulation under the floor can get old and thin over time due to damage by critters or natural home settling. Replacing it with thicker insulation will help make the floor warmer.Do wood floors make a house colder? ›
If you're worried about hardwood floors being cold on the feet, don't be; they're actually better for keeping your home warm. Hardwood floors help heat move through your home. The bottom line is that wood is a conductor, and the carpet is an insulator.How much heat is lost through the floor? ›
More than 10 percent of an average home's heat is lost through the floor. through the floor. This percentage can be much higher depending on your home floor's material.
The idea that heat rises has prevented many builders in the past from insulating floors, but adding insulation for floor joists can actually improve a home's energy efficiency as well as its insulating capabilities.How can I better insulate my home? ›
- Make a Door Snake.
- Caulk Your Vents.
- Hang Up Heavy Curtains.
- Apply Window Film.
- Add Weather Stripping To Your Doors and Windows.
- Insulate Your Patio Doors.
- Wrap Up Your Water Pipes.
- Get Your Water Heater A Blanket.