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A heat-friendly house - simple tips to improve insulation, by Dave Hunter

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Author
Dave Hunter
Published
February 26, 2014
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Now that the price of heating a house has gone completely through the roof, homeowners have to be far better at saving energy than they used to be. Gone are the days when you could heat the neighborhood without worrying. In these harder financial times, a few savvy tips could help save more than just a few dollars.

Insulate the attic

Rockwool or fiberglass is the usual way of insulating an attic. It comes in rolls or batts and blankets, and is normally available in widths that fit standard spaces in the attic, for example, between wall studs and floor joists. Attic insulation is a relatively easy job, and for those that are confident in their home improvement skills, various ‘how-to’ videos or detailed instructions can make it straightforward. For those who are not, installers are always available to hire.

Window treatments make a big difference

It might be obvious, but the biggest holes in a home’s walls are usually the windows and external doors. While there isn’t a lot that can be done about the doors, beyond closing them and draft-proofing them properly, windows have a great deal of potential. In fact, one of the best things about insulating the windows well is that the treatments often look stylish and beautiful. 

Many interior designers specialize in layering window treatments, creating a rich, lavish style that insulates well. For example, layering roman blinds with floor length curtains can create privacy, let light through during the day, and yet will keep the edges of the frame covered at all times.

Fitted window shutters used to be the standard way for homes to block out light, drafts and noise, and they’re certainly coming back into popularity as people look for new and stylish ways to keep the cold out and the heat in. They remove the need for curtains, widen the look of the room, and even provide the effect of a blackout blind if the occupant needs to sleep during the day.

Foam for leak-free walls

Foam for insulation purposes comes in a few varieties, including rigid and foam-in-place types. Rigid foam can be used to sheath walls and hatches to prevent airflow. It can be more costly than fiberglass and rock wool, but its insulating properties are up to twice as effective, so in certain key areas, it can be a very good idea

Foam-in-place is insulation that is typically blown into wall cavities, sprayed onto the attic floor, or even under floors, to halt airflow. It can be obtained in small cans for tiny gaps. The two types of foam-in-place are open-cell and closed-cell foams. Open-cell foam contains air, and the substance feels spongy in texture. Closed-cell foam is of a greater density and is gas-filled to ensure that the foam expands and spreads to fill a space. It is again up to twice as effective as open-cell foam, but is more expensive.

The cost of insulating a house should always be compared to the price of heating one that is not insulated. In most cases, the difference will be phenomenal; it’s well worth insulating, even if it does take a bit of labor and expense.