A reader asks:
How do I make the best choices when it comes to home improvements and renovations for energy efficiency?
A: There are many ways to improve your home’s energy efficiency. So many, in fact, that we will break it down a little bit and cover a few different topics over a few different articles.
First, let’s talk about renovations. Chances are if you are doing extensive renovations to your home, you have hired a contractor, and they will be able to make some important decisions that fit both your ideas and your budget. Of course, knowing what questions to ask your contractor is important.
If your home is undergoing renovations there are some great options for helping to improve your home’s efficiency while upgrading its aesthetic. Upgrading your insulation is a key place to start.
The quality of insulation is measured using the R-value, or the resistance of the insulation to the transfer of heat. In Alberta, the recommended R-value for roof insulation is R-40, which translates to approximately 12-14 inches of fiberglass insulation.
Fiberglass batt insulation is one of the least expensive types of insulation and it is widely available. Installing batt insulation is quite easy, although careful installation is required to maximize energy savings. Fiberglass has a low R-value (3 to 3.8 per inch) and will lose R-value when wet or compressed. It can absorb moisture and support mold growth. It is highly permeable and will not stop energy losses due to air leaks.
Improving your insulation is one of the most cost-effective ways to increase the energy efficiency of your home. Depending on your current insulation amounts, you could improve your efficiency by 20-60%.
The attic is often the best and easiest place to target your insulation improvements. Measuring your insulation is an easy way to estimate the current R-value.
Also consider improving the insulation while replacing siding. If your home is going through an exterior face-lift, it would be a great time to check the vapor barrier under the siding, and possibly add insulation as needed.
If your basement is unfinished, a lot of energy is lost through dead air spaces in your home. Adding insulation to the basement can help prevent temperature fluctuations between winter and summer.
In addition to upgrading your insulation, there are other ways to improve efficiency and make your home eco-friendly. We will let you know about some great lighting options in our next Dear Mabel.