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Dec 4, 2012 5:00 PM  PST  

GreenPointers: Insulation and Weatherization 

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Insulation and Weatherization

Our series of GreenPointers provides helpful tips for a healthier, greener home in a variety of topics. Today's topic is insulation and weatherization.

Improving the insulation in attics, roofs, and exterior walls and floors can save you money by reducing the energy used for heating and air conditioning. Sealing air leaks by applying caulk and weatherstripping can also reduce energy bills as well as keeping dust and other pollutants out of your home. Improved insulation and weatherization can also make your home more comfortable and quieter.

Green Pointers

Here are some pointers for insulating and weatherstripping effectively:
Step 1


  Choose insulation products with high recycled content. Materials such as recycled cotton or cellulose insulation contain up to 80% post-industrial or post-consumer recycled materials.

Some insulation products emit formaldehyde and volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Look for products that have been tested for low chemical emissions by a reputable third-party organization or government agency.

Step 2


  Studies show that poorly installed insulation severely decreases the material's insulating value. Pay proper attention to installation detail and quality assurance. Install insulation with no gaps or voids. Insulation should fill the cavity side-to-side, top-to-bottom and front-to-back. Cut or fill batts to fit around wiring and plumbing without compression. Compared to batts, blown-in fiberglass, blown-in cellulose or spray-foam insulation typically do a much better job of filling gaps and sealing around pipes. Don't be tempted to skip the insulation of cavities that are difficult to access.

Many homes have poorly installed insulation, even when the work is done by a professional builder or insulation contractor. It's a good idea to have your home professionally inspected for a quality installation of insulation in walls, floors and ceilings. After inspection, have the builder or insulation contractor correct any problems before the drywall is applied.

You or your general contractor can hire a certified Home Energy Rating System (HERS) technician to inspect the quality of the insulation installation.

Step 3


  Air leaks in a home often contribute as much to high utility bills and discomfort as poor insulation or single-pane windows. Weatherization involves sealing leaks by applying caulk, foam and weatherstripping to all cracks and seams where unwanted air might be able to leak in.

Sealing leaks does not require specialized training or tools, just attention to detail. Replace or add new weatherstripping around doors, windows and attic access hatches; behind the faceplates of electrical outlets and heating/cooling registers; around air spaces where pipes and wires penetrate walls such as under sinks and tubs, around exhaust and vent pipes and flues, through exterior walls, and in the attic at the top plates of the walls.


Read the complete insulation and weatherization GreenPointers.

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Source: Build It Green

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