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Insulate your home to save energy

Published On: Dec 13 2011 09:33:23 AM CST
Updated On: May 16 2014 03:46:55 PM CDT
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(NewsUSA) - Heating accounts for 30 to 50 percent of the energy used in the average American home. Unfortunately, many Americans pay for heat only to send warm air billowing out windows, attics, ceilings, floors, doors and garages.

Poorly insulated homes prove more difficult, and more costly, to keep comfortable. But choosing and installing insulation can be a simple, do-it-yourself project that pays for itself.

How does insulation work? Heat naturally moves into cooler areas. When it's colder outside than inside, the heat inside the home tries to move outdoors. Insulation slows down heat flow, so home heating systems stabilize temperatures without using extra energy.

How do you know what insulation to use in your home? The U.S. Department of Energy's Energy Saver Web site, www.energysavers.org, gives these tips to homeowners considering insulation projects:

- Know what factors to consider when choosing installation. The "best" insulation for your home depends on how much insulation you need, the location that needs insulation, and the local availability and price of insulation. Check to see whether an insulation needs professional installation or if it will work in its intended space.

- Choose your insulation based on its R-value. Insulation is rated by R-value, or resistance to heat flow. The higher the R-value, the better the insulation.

But the R-value doesn't tell the whole story -- how and where you install insulation affects its performance. For example, compressed insulation, which happens when you place denser insulation over lighter insulation, won't give you its full R-value. Also, insulation placed between joists, rafters and studs does not slow heat flow through those joists or studs.

- Read the insulation's label before installing the insulation. No matter what kind of insulation you buy, check the product label. The Federal Trade Commission insists that labels include a clearly stated R-value and information about health, safety and fire-hazard issues. Insist that any contractor installing insulation provide the product labels from each package.

- Know how much you need. Manufacturers now make thinner insulation materials with high R-values, but some materials will settle, so you need to install more insulation at the outset.

- Install for efficiency. Insulation must be installed correctly to work properly. Some products are not meant for do-it-yourselfers and should be installed by competent, trained professionals.

For more information, visit www.energysavers.org to find no-cost, and low-cost methods to help save energy and keep you warm.