Q. Why is adequate insulation important?
A. Heating and cooling account for 50 to 70% of the energy used in the average North American home. Inadequate insulation and air leakage are the leading causes of energy waste in most homes. Retrofitting your house with proper insulation:
- Saves money and conserves our limited energy resources
- Makes your house more comfortable by helping to maintain a uniform temperature throughout the dwelling
- Makes walls, ceilings, and floors warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer
The amount of energy you conserve will depend on several factors: the size, shape, and construction of your house; the living habits of your family; the type and efficiency of the heating and cooling systems; and the fuel you use. Once the energy savings have paid for the installation cost, energy conserved is money saved – and saving energy will be even more important as utility rates go up and the new Harmonized Sales Tax is implemented.
Q. What is an R-Value?
A. Insulation is rated in terms of thermal resistance, called R-value, which indicates the resistance to heat flow. The higher the R-value, the greater the insulating effectiveness. The R-value of thermal insulation depends on the type of material, its thickness, and its density. In calculating the R-value of a multi-layered installation, the R-values of the individual layers are added.
Q. What is the difference between cellulose insulation and fiberglass insulation?
A. The R values between blown in cellulose insulation and fiberglass insulation are the same but the thickness varies. On average, blown in cellulose insulation is 2-3 inches thinner than fiberglass insulation when both have the same R values. However, in a retrofit situation, blown-in cellulose insulation is the method of choice. Blown in cellulose insulation easily flows around obstructions, penetrates odd shaped cavities and it easily conforms around wires, electrical boxes and pipes. Blown in cellulose insulation is also 2-3 times denser than fiberglass insulation. Studies comparing cellulose insulation to fiberglass showed that cellulose insulation was 38% tighter and required 26% less energy.
Q. Why is sealing your home’s gaps so important?
A. Air sealing is important, not only because drafts are uncomfortable, but also because air leaks carry both moisture and energy, usually in the direction you don’t want. For example, air leaks can carry hot humid outdoor air into your house in the summer, or can carry warm moist air from a bathroom into the attic in the winter.
Most homeowners are aware that air leaks into and out of their houses through small openings around doors and window frames and through fireplaces and chimneys. Air also enters the living space from other unheated parts of the house, such as attics, basements, or crawlspaces. The air travels through:
- any openings or cracks where two walls meet, where the wall meets the ceiling, or near interior door frames;
- gaps around electrical outlets, switch boxes, and recessed fixtures;
- gaps behind recessed cabinets, and furred or false ceilings such as kitchen or bathroom soffits;
- gaps around attic access hatches and pull-down stairs;
- behind bath tubs and shower stall units;
- through floor cavities of finished attics adjacent to unconditioned attic spaces;
- utility chaseways for ducts, etc., and
- plumbing and electrical wiring penetrations.
Q. Does your home need more insulation?
A. Unless your home was constructed with special attention to energy efficiency, adding insulation will probably reduce your utility bills. Much of the existing housing stock in Canada was not insulated to the levels used today. Older homes are likely to use more energy than newer homes, leading to higher heating and air-conditioning bills
Q. When is moisture a problem?
A. When moist air touches a cold surface, some of the moisture may leave the air and condense, or become liquid. If moisture condenses inside a wall, or in your attic, you will not be able to see the water, but it can cause a number of problems. Insulation is an important part of your building envelope system, and all parts of that system must work together to keep moisture from causing damage to the structure or being health hazards to the occupants. For example, mold and mildew grow in moist areas, causing allergic reactions and damaging buildings.
Q. Where will I get the most savings from added insulation?
A. Because heat rises, the first area to consider is the attic for adding insulation. Basement walls also can radiate cold into the house, so unfinished basements should be insulated with rigid foam as another basic form of heat loss protection. Installing insulation in the cavity of exterior walls is the most difficult. However, since exterior walls comprise the largest area of potential heat loss in any home, it is a good idea to consider adding thermal insulation within the wall cavities as a source of the greatest potential energy savings and increase in comfort. Noise reduction from adjoining neighbours, busy streets or barking dogs is an added bonus to insulating the exterior walls of your home.
Q. What kind of cost savings can I expect?
A. Your energy needs will will be reduced dramatically – between 20% and 50% – depending on the construction of your home. Insulation will usually pay for itself within a few years.
Q. Is this an economic thing for us to consider doing?
A. Absolutely. Government rebates can subsidize a portion of the installation costs. Insulation in your walls, ceilings and attic is like money in the bank. In a way you are paying for the insulation right now… with higher fuel bills. Investing in upgraded insulation makes good sense both from the point of view of money saved on energy bills and the standpoint of increased comfort.
Q. Is cellulose insulation new?
A. Cellulose has been around for 60+ years. With increased awareness about being environmentally responsible and reducing energy costs and the ease with which it can be installed in hard-to-reach areas, homeowners, architects, engineers and builders have discovered that cellulose is a superior approach to traditional glass or mineral fiber insulation.
A. There are several reasons:
1. Produced from post-consumer recycled newspaper
2. Diverts waste from entering landfills and otherwise emitting harmful CO2 gases
3. Uses less energy to produce than other types of insulation
4. Envelopes your home in a way that conserves energy more efficiently
5. Saves money and reduces your energy bills
6. Because it’s made from newspaper, will the cellulose insulation burn?
Cellulose wood fiber is treated with non-toxic chemicals that absorb oxygen to choke the flame that requires oxygen to burn. Cellulose melts at a very high temperature and is actually considered a fire retardant.
Q. Can the walls of my existing home be insulated?
YES. Through injection we can insulate most wall cavities from 3/4″ to 6″ with dense packed cellulose insulation. We can also inject dense packed cellulose insulation into garage ceilings with rooms above, and into existing walls with older fiberglass insulation, thereby making them more efficient.
Q. Is cellulose insulation good for soundproofing from room to room?
A. Yes. Relative to competing products, cellulose insulation has superior properties for improving noise suppression in wall, floor and ceiling construction. The dense fibres and their natural ability to completely fill irregular and small cavities offer excellent sound adsorption properties. Wherever dense packed cellulose is installed, it forms a very tight seal.
Q. Is cellulose insulation approved by any Canadian regulatory authorities, building codes, etc.?
A. Yes! cellulose insulation is tested by and listed under the CCMC (Canadian Construction Materials Centre)
Q. Can I install cellulose insulation myself?
A. Yes. However, we strongly recommend that you contract the services of an experience installer who has the knowledge and equipment to do the job right the first time. The overall effectiveness of any insulation material is directly linked to the quality of the installation process.
Q. Is cellulose insulation more efficient than traditional fiberglass insulation?
A. Yes. Cellulose has major benefits that only it can provide: cost, performance, energy savings over time, and its dramatically lower environmental impact. Cellulose has the edge over the competition in most applications.
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