Insulation serves dual purposes in a home. In the winter, insulation prevents heat loss and keeps homes comfortably warm, while in the summer it buffers a home from the heat and prevent cold air from escaping.
Insulation also is one of the most cost-effective ways to make a home more energy-efficient.
Homeowners may recognize the importance of insulation, but be unaware of how to recognize when insulation needs to be replaced or even if they have adequate insulation in their homes. According to the United States Department of Energy, a qualified home energy auditor can check a home's insulation as part of a whole-house energy assessment. An energy assessment, also known as a home energy audit, also helps to identify areas of the home that are in need of air sealing.
Homeowners also can do their own visual assessments to determine if their homes need more insulation. The following are a handful of signs that indicate you may have an insulation deficit in your home.
• If the snow melts on your roof but not on your neighbors', this may be a sign that you need more insulation in the attic. Melting snow means heat is escaping from the attic or under the eaves.
• Bare spots in the attic and insulation that does not extend to the edge of the roof may indicate a need for more.
• Check the level of insulation in the attic. If it is level with or falls below the ceiling joists, an extra layer should be installed.
• If energy bills are higher than normal for the time of year, that may be due to a lack of insulation. Notice whether the HVAC system is running more than usual.
• An unusually warm second story during hot weather also may be indicative of an insulation deficiency. Such a situation suggests hot air is infiltrating the home through the roof.
When adding insulation, choose the right R-value for your home. R-value measures how well certain materials, such as insulation, resist heat. The higher the R-value, the greater the insulation. Therefore, insulation with a higher R-value will perform better than insulation with a lower rating. Colder climates may require a higher R-value than warmer ones.