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Newer, Better Home Insulation: Telltale Signs that it’s Time

Menacingly named a Polar Vortex by the media, for many, this is just a good ol’ fashioned Canadian winter. However you look at it, there’s no getting around the fact that 2014 is off to an uncharacteristically blustery beginning.

In just the first week of 2014, most of us have already had a full season’s worth of certain things: the painfully relentless drone of a roaring furnace, endless laps between woodpile and woodstove, dark, whispered tales of bursting pipes and water damage. All of it expensive – and this year – all of it right on the back-end of a holiday season many still haven’t finished paying for. It’s enough to make hibernation seem like a great idea!

No matter what fuel you use to heat your home, you burn more of it when it gets colder (and windier). The math is pretty straightforward. When the thermometer goes down, the price of comfort goes up. Fortunately, the solution is pretty straightforward too: if you need to burn money to fight winter, find a way to burn less of it to get the same result. And the way to do that is home insulation.

But people are funny. Even though the sound of the furnace eating their vacation plans (or plans for a new zero-turn mower in spring) sets them on edge, they tend to shrug it off, say, “oh well”, and push addressing the problem off into the future. It’s easy to do. Especially after the holidays when the bills are coming in – and that furnace is a constant reminder of those bills. The key to turning this around is remembering that you don’t SPEND money on home insulation. You SAVE money on home insulation! And the sooner you start – the more you save. It’s also important to remember that it soothes the burn on summer cooling costs as well.

With the benefits of home insulation being so obvious, the only question left is, “how good is the insulation I already have?”

There are a few telltale signs that you may need to upgrade:

  • High heating bills in the winter / high electrical bills in the summer
  • The feeling that your furnace/air conditioning runs all the time
  • Icicles indicate insufficient insulation letting heat coming through the roof. This heat melts snow and ice that runs off and freezes as icicles
  • Hot spots, which manifest as bare patches amidst a snow-covered roof – or around a foundation – are an indication of areas where heat is being lost due to inadequate insulation
  • Drafts, and inconsistent temperatures, throughout the house indicates weak spots – and leaks in the building envelope (plugging these is as important as home insulation performance)
  • Signs of aging, such as insulation that is stiff or crumbling can suggest it’s time for an upgrade

If you know it’s been a while since your house was insulated, it also makes sense to check into current standards. Your home may have been well insulated at the time it was done; but as they say, times (as well as technology and best practices) change.

Beyond knowing the signs to look for, you should also think about events that may compromise effectiveness of the insulation you have, as well as opportune times to upgrade. Piggybacking on other home maintenance or improvement undertakings can further deepen savings on an upgrade and bump your ongoing ROI even higher.

  • After flooding or leakage: Moisture can compromise home insulation performance. Even worse – mould could take hold. This would be a good time to consider an upgrade
  • After infestation: All kinds of pests can compromise both the performance of your home insulation and your envelope integrity. Rather than addressing repairs in a patchwork and piecemeal approach, it might make more sense to take the opportunity to do a comprehensive upgrade – and do it right.
  • While planning a renovation: Everything is torn apart anyway, right? Here’s a chance to piggyback one projects on another and economize on labour. Who knows? Depending on the nature of the reno – what you save on utilities with the new insulation might just pay for it!

It’s a new year! And it’s a time when we all think about improvement. Optimizing the performance of your building envelope and your insulation is the gift to yourself that keeps giving.

This year, resolve to speak with an Insta-Insulation home insulation expert that would be happy to look at your unique situation and offer specific upgrading options.

After all, wouldn’t all that money being put into your furnace be better spent putting you on a beach during the next Polar Vortex?