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Insulating Your Home

Home energy loss most frequently occurs through floors, walls, and ceilings. A homeowner can increase home comfort and reduce energy loss up to 30 percent by installing additional insulation in these areas. The amount of energy saved will depend on the size and shape of the house, the existing insulation level, and the local climate.

Adding insulation to a home can be a do-it-yourself project. Insulation is most easily installed in attics, crawl spaces, and other accessible spaces. Insulating walls and hard-to-reach spaces may require hiring an insulation contractor. Below are things to consider when adding insulation to your home:

  • Seal air leaks in your home prior to insulating. It is more difficult to locate leaks after insulation is added. Undetected air leaks also reduce the expected savings of adding insulation.
  • Follow the manufacturers installation instructions on the insulation packaging.
  • Take safety precautions by wearing clothing to protect against skin irritation and a respiratory mask to prevent inhalation of fibers and dust.
  • Insulate the attic, under floors, and crawl spaces to the recommended levels to achieve the biggest energy savings.
  • Do not cover attic vents with insulation. Adequate ventilation is needed to control heat and moisture levels.
  • Consider adding insulation to exterior walls if remodeling or redesigning your house.

Choosing Insulation

Prior to buying and installing insulation, determine the type and amount of insulation needed by checking the Department of Energy s (DOE) recommended R-values for your region of the country ( R-value refers to an insulation material s ability to resist the transfer of heat. The higher the R-value the less heat is conducted. For attics, DOE recommends values between R-22 and R-49. For more information on R-values for a specific locality, contact the local utility or building department.

Insulation is made to fit in different areas of your home and comes in the following:

Batts . Made of fiberglass or rock wool, batts fit between wall studs or between ceiling and floor joists.

Rolls or blankets. Made of fiberglass, rolls are usually installed in attics.

Loose-fill insulation. Made of fiberglass, rock wool, or cellulose, loose-fill can be blown into attics and between walls.

Rigid-foam boards. Used in exterior walls, basements, and foundations, rigid-foam boards are lightweight and can provide structural support.

For more information about types of insulation and how to install it, consult these Web sites:

Cellulose Insulation Manufacturers Association (
Energy Savers: Tips on Saving Energy and Money at Home (
Energy Star (
Insulation Contractors Association of America (
Oak Ridge National Laboratory Fact Sheet on Insulation (
North American Insulation Manufacturers Association (
Raise Your IQ Simply Insulate (
Urban Options Weatherization Guide (

Content updated on 5/25/2007

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