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Installing the Proper Insulation

Published August 28, 2014

Depending on the climate in the region in which you live, insulation for a home plan provides a protective barrier between your home and the outdoor United States Department of Energy has good, clear advice – with easy to review diagrams – making it really easy to understand how to insulate your house. The information was designed to help you reduce your home's heating and cooling costs through proper insulation and air sealing techniques and to make you more comfortable. Insulating a home properly will also save money.


A house plan needs to have the proper specifications to be properly insulated from the foundation to the roof for optimal energy efficiency. Factors also include moisture and air leakage control in each area of your house. While in the design phase of planning a new home, think about doing structural insulated panels, insulating concrete forms, and insulated concrete blocks. These materials literally have insulation built in, and houses built using these products often have superior insulating qualities and minimal thermal bridging.


When installing insulation, always consult with your general contractor, and/or a local insulation professional.  Following are the considerations:


Attic: Typically a loose-fill or batt insulation is used in an attic as it offers better coverage and is less expensive.  Make sure that vertical walls with attic space behind are insulated. Attic decking with an added platform for a heating or cooling unit, or hot water tank, is raised above the ceiling joists to leave room for the insulation. Finally, if you live in a hot climate, radiant barriers can also be installed in an attic to reduce heat.


Ducts. When building a new home, make sure the ducts are placed in the conditioned space to avoid the energy losses associated with duct systems. If the ducts are in unconditioned space, seal them and then insulate.


Exterior walls. In an existing home, think about using blow-in insulation installed with the dense pack technique, because it provides significant air sealing.


An A-framed house. With advanced wall framing techniques, thermal bridging can be reduced and you can maximize the insulated wall area. It provides a continuous layer of insulation, reducing thermal bridging through wood studs, improving comfort and helping to save energy and improving comfort.


Floors above unheated garages. Make sure to seal all possible sources of air leakage, which minimizing the danger of contaminants caused by car exhaust, paints, solvents, and other supplies, etc.


Foundation insulation. A properly insulated foundation helps keep below-grade rooms more comfortable and also prevents insect infestation, radon infiltration, and even moisture problems. Plus it reduces heating costs. For insulating a new homes, seek construction techniques that provide both foundation structure and insulation, such as insulating concrete forms and insulating concrete blocks. Optimal foundation insulation materials and placement vary by climate.


Crawlspaces. Check to see if it is ventilated or unventilated. Most building codes require vents to help remove any moisture from the crawlspace. If you have or will have an unventilated crawlspace, seal and insulate the foundation walls rather than the floor between the crawlspace and the house. This keeps piping and ductwork within the conditioned volume of the house so these building components don't require insulation for energy efficiency or protection against a freeze.


Slab-On-Grade. Insulated slab are easier to heat, and placing the mass of the slab within your home’s thermal envelope helps moderate indoor temperatures. Installing slab insulation during the construction process is very straightforward. However, construction details vary widely, so it’s best to consult a building professional in your area.


Cathedral Ceilings. Insulation for cathedral ceilings enables ceiling temperatures to remain closer to room temperatures, and also provides an even temperature distribution throughout the home. Cathedral ceilings must provide space between the roof deck and home’s ceiling for adequate ventilation. Foil-faced batt insulation is often used in cathedral ceilings as it offers the permeability rating often required for use in ceilings without attics.


For more information on topics surrounding house plans and contruction of your new home, visit The Plan Collection blog. 


Note: Article's lead image photo credit: Charles P on Unsplash

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