The purpose of insulation is to retain, as far as possible, the heat in your home when it’s cold outside and to not overwork the air conditioning system when it’s hot outside, thus saving you money on your heating and air conditioning bills. There are two principle ways heat can escape from your house or enter it. One way is air flow, in which heated air finds holes through which it can leak to the inside or outside. The other way is through heat transfer, in which heat moves through the enclosing parts of a house’s structure to the inside or outside.
It’s best to take care of the air flow problem first. Recessed lights, paths pipes take through walls, open wall cavities and attic hatches are typical places where leaks occur. Once any such leaks are sealed, the insulation issue can be addressed.
Insulation is a material through which heat can only flow very slowly. Insulation is typically installed in the attic because heat rises. The insulating ability of a particular type of insulation is indicated by its R-value. The higher the R-value number, the more resistant the insulation is to heat flow. An R-value of R-38 is recommended for most attics. The insulation material is put between the floor joists in the attic. One type of insulation is blankets of material, called batts, typically made from fiberglass. Another type is loose fill which is put into the attic floor with a blowing machine. A third method is sprayed foam polyurethane which is a more expensive option.
Caulking and Sealing
Leaks which allow cold air to enter your house during the winter will drive up your heating bills. Likewise, leaks which allow warm air to enter during the summer will increase your air conditioning bills. Windows and doors need to be properly sealed and weather stripped to prevent the leaks.
Replace Old Windows
If you have not replaced your windows with ENERGY STAR qualified windows then your heating/cooling bill may be 10% to 25% higher. Make sure you replace windows with double-paned high performance glass that have low-e or spectrally selective coating. The spectrally selective coatings will reflect back part of the summer sun reducing the amount of heat gain in your home. You can also install awnings on south and west facing windows as well as closing curtains or applying reflective films to the windows.
Toilets are one of the biggest contributors to your water use bill. Low-flush toilets only use about 1.6 gallons per flush (GPF), while older-style toilets might use 3.5 GPF. Less water is used by dual-flush toilets for liquid waste. You can save 20,000 gallons of water per year with a low-flow toilet.