Finding a contractor who can competently install residential insulation while saving you energy costs can be a tricky feat. For more information on how to effectively insulate your home, while being eco-friendly, before you embark on this project (with or without a general contractor), read on.
Different Types of Insulation
Fiberglass is a simple and inexpensive method to insulate your home. It’s probably the most popular method, and you can totally DIY.
- Spray Foam
Spray foam can be applied in a large-scale manner with industrial equipment and generally with professional assistance. It can also be bought in a can at hardware stores in order to address small spaces and cracks.
Made from recycled paper, cellulose insulation is almost always applied by a professional by spraying it into the desired walls, attics and crawl spaces.
- Mineral Wool
Also known as rock wool insulation, mineral wool is easy to install and comes in rolls like fiberglass insulation. It is effective and doesn’t shed as much as traditional fiberglass.
- Radiant Barrier
A radiant barrier is reflective insulation and is installed in attics. However, it can be as simple as light-colored roofing and/or reflective paint.
Green Building Materials
With the variety of options available, there can be a lot of ways to sub in a more eco-friendly material option for a comparable cost. It’s a myth that flooring, tiles, roofing, etc., that are kinder to the environment are far more expensive than conventional materials in today’s marketplace.
When insulating, a “green” practice is to aim to fill up space at least 50% with the material in order to do it effectively. Commonly used materials for more eco-conscious projects include structural insulated panels, spray-in foam or spray-in cellulose. Some contractors add fiberglass to this list as well.
Tips on Saving Energy
Saving energy starts with personal practice in the home and educating your roommates, family, neighbors to conserve with everyday usage. Simple things like turning lights off and even unplugging things when you’re not using them can be helpful.
In terms of saving energy during your building projects, keep in mind that every bit of hot or cold air that you lose out of the walls, ceiling, cracks, and crevices in your home add up, and as Grandpa used to say: “We aren’t paying to heat the whole neighborhood!” So don’t cut corners while insulating. Make sure you think about the big picture and the small details prior to selecting your materials and methods.
Questions to Ask Your Contractor
Of course, you will want to screen for the basics like licensing, how long they’ve been in business and online ratings. You might even ask to speak to a few references for good measure. However, on an insulation-specific front, be sure to find out the following before signing on the dotted line:
– What materials do you offer for your insulation projects?
– What warranties do you offer?
– What safety and protective measures do you offer for your employees?
– What are your ventilation and vapor barrier plan?
– Do you have a worker’s comp and/or liability insurance?
It might seem daunting to tackle a major project like residential installation, but hopefully, this has helped simplify some of the key things to know and common challenges prior to starting up.