Energy Efficiency of Your Home: It Starts With Insulation

There are so many products out there today to help increase energy efficiency of your home.  However, insulation remains one of the most critical components and fastest ways to reach this goal, and save on heating and cooling costs.  Not to mention making an impact on how much we use (and waste) valuable energy resources.  A home should be properly insulated from the roof all the way to its foundation.

R-Tech_product photoInsulfoam’s R-Tech lightweight rigid insulation panel products are ideal for insulation for the total building envelope (see illustration below).  It is also ideal for homeowners looking for a DIY insulation method.  Gone are the days of fiberglass splinters, heavy insulation products that are hard to cut, and blown in pieces that take a lot of material for adequate coverage.  Adding insulation to the basement, walls, attic, garage or other areas of your home can be do-it-yourself (DIY) projects, with substantial benefits.  Homeowners can quickly and economically increase a home’s insulating power with these large lightweight panels that can be cut simply and easily to fit virtually and space.

Available at home improvement stores nation-wide (Lowe’s and Home Depot), R-Tech comes in various thicknesses, panel sizes and fanfold options (picture unfolding 100 squares insulation in under 5 minutes!) without lose insulation all over, or pesky and painful fiberglass slivers to avoid.  See our tips and details below on insulating walls, basement, attic and garage doors.

R-Tech_whole house

HOME INSULATING TIPS FOR WALLS AND BASEMENTS

What prep do I need to do for my walls and basement before installing lightweight R-Tech insulation panels?

Before insulating, seal any air leaks and make other necessary repairs.  If you are insulating in an area that is located in a conditioned part of the house, also remember to insulate and air seal your basement, wall or attic access.

Next plan and make sure you’re covering all the right areas.  Insulate and air seal any knee walls – vertical walls with attic space directly behind them – in your home as well.  In addition, if you’re building a new home or remodeling, make sure any area that provides additional storage space or a platform for a heating and/or cooling unit or hot water tank has enough room around them for adequate insulation.  Finally, if you live in a hot or warm climate, consider installing a radiant barrier in your attic to reduce summer heat gain.

R-Tech panels easily fold over the top of panel joists without the need to fill in gaps and low spots.

What is the best choice for insulating exterior walls?

Consider using insulating wall sheathing rather than wood sheathing products.  These products include foam insulation laminated to a facer or another sheathing product, providing an R-Value of R-2 to R-3.5.  With products like R-Tech you can choose thicker foam boards which yields even higher R-Values.

Foam sheathing advantages:

  • Provides a continuous layer of insulation, which reduces thermal bridging through wood studs (energy escaping through the wood studs), saving energy and improving comfort.
  • Is easier to cut and install than heavier or blown in products.
  • Protects against condensation on the inside wall by keeping the interior of the wall warmer.
  • Usually costs less than plywood or oriented strand board (OSB).

Basement Insulation Done Right

A properly insulated basement can save you money on heating and provide a dry, comfortable living space.  In most cases, a basement with insulation installed on its exterior walls should be considered a conditioned space.  Even in a house with an unconditioned basement, the basement is more connected to other living spaces than to the outside, which makes basement wall insulation preferable to ceiling insulation.  In fact, up to 25% heat loss occurs through the basements of a home.

In new construction, adding insulation on the exterior of the basement walls will:

  • Minimize thermal bridging and reduce heat loos through the foundation.
  • Protect the damp-proof coating from damage during backfilling.
  • Provide some protection against moisture intrusion.
  • Make the foundation part of the thermal mass of the conditioned space, thereby reducing interior temperature swings.
  • Reduce the potential for condensation on surfaces in the basement.
  • Conserve room area, relative to installing insulation on the interior.

In an existing home, adding insulation to the exterior of the basement walls is impractical.  Interior basement wall insulation has the following advantages:

  • It is much less expensive to install than exterior insulation for existing buildings.
  • Almost any insulation type can be used, some easier and safer to install than others.
  • It eliminates the threat of insect infestation.

What else should I consider when installing interior basement wall insulation?

  • Many insulation types require a fire-rate covering because they release toxic gases when ignited.  Be sure you’re choosing one that complies.
  • Interior insulation reduces usable interior space by a few inches.  The thinner the product the better.
  • It doesn’t protect the damp-proof coating like exterior insulation does, so choosing inflation with a protective facer is a good choice.
  • If perimeter drainage is poor, the insulation may become saturated by moisture weeping through foundation walls, be sure to choice an insulation that doesn’t retain moisture.

How much insulation should I add?

Insulation levels are specified by R-Value.  R-Value is a measure of insulation’s ability to resist air )hot or cold air) flow.  The higher the R-Value, the better the thermal performance of the insulation.  R-Tech offers a huge range of sizes and thicknesses to meet the insulation needs your project requires.  All with fast and easy insulation.  To determine appropriate R-Values for basement walls in your area, use these R-Value recommendations.

HOME INSULATING TIPS FOR ATTICS

How do I know if I need more insulation in my attic?

No matter war kind of insulation you currently have in your attic, one quick way to determine if you need more is to look across the span of your attic.  If your insulation is just level with or below you floor joists (i.e., you can easily see your joists), you should add more.  If you cannot see any of the floor joists because the insulation is well above them, you probably have enough and adding more may not be cost-effective.  It is important that the insulation be evenly distributed with no low spots; something there is enough insulation in the middle of the attic and very little along the eaves.  If your attic insulation covers your joists and is distributed evenly, you probably have enough.

R-Tech panels easily fold over the top of panel joists without the need to fill in gaps and low spots.

How Much Should I Add?

Insulation levels are specified by R-Value.  R-Value is a measure of insulation’s ability to resist heat flow.  The higher the R-Value, the better the thermal performance of the insulation.  The recommended level for most attics is to insulate to R-38.  A layer of R-Tech is a fantastic way to beef up attic insulation with fast and easy installation.  Lay directly over trusses, planks, or subfloor and these large panels can fold out (fanfold) or be joined together with very few gaps for heat/cooling to escape through.

Note the EPA recommends air sealing the attic before adding attic insulation.

DON’T LET ENERGY ESCAPE THROUH YOUR GARAGE

Lowes_garage door kitThe largest uninsulated space in most homes is the garage door.  Insulfoam’s Garage Door Insulation Kit provides an easy solution for increasing the energy efficiency of your home and reducing interior noise.  The kit is environmentally friendly and features a foam core that is 100% recyclable.  Insulfoam’s Garage Door Insulation Kit is available at your local Lowe’s and Home Depot home improvement stores.

  • Saves energy by reducing heating and cooling costs
  • Reduces interior noise
  • Clean, professional finished product
  • Energy-efficient upgrades may be eligible for federal tax credits
  • Simple, easy installation in less than one hour.

View this DIY installation video to see how easy it is to cut and install

Project Profile: Target Retail Store Saves 25% Cost Savings in Insulation with EPS

Target  |  King of Prussia, PA  |  View Project Profile (Pdf)

R-Tech Below Grade provided 25% cost savings in insulation on the project without sacrificing performance.

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The Target store located in King of Prussia, PA was constructed different than most and was not built as a slab on grade.  The bottom level of the building is a parking garage while the retail space is located on the second level.  Target used InsulGrade R-Tech as a between slab insulation as a way of insulating the floor of the retail space and providing a thermal barrier between the concrete planks and the floor slab.

DOW XPS was initially specified on the Target project, however; R-Tech was substituted and provided a substantial cost savings while providing both long-term stable and non-degrading R-Value.

PROBLEM & SOLUTION

Space was a challenge for this Target project as the parking garage is on the ground level and the actual retail floor is on the second level.  Concrete planks were installed as the base substrate.  R-Tech was then installed over the plank to insulate the interior of the retail space from the open parking garage underneath.  A topping slab was then poured over the R-Tech to create the retail floor.  The R-Tech insulation has a long-term stable R-Value and is eligible for an Insulfoam 20-Year Thermal Performance Warranty … a warranty that’s not prorated or limited to a percentage of the published R-Value.

InsulGrade R-Tech features a premium factory-applied laminate polymeric facer that is virtually impervious to moisture, keeps water from entering the insulation, and away from concrete foundations and slabs.  Available in 4′ x 8′ panels and thicknesses starting at 3/8″, with compressive strengths from 10-50 psi.

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View Project Profile (Pdf)

PROJECT DETAILS:

EPS vs. XPS

  • Both EPS and XPS are closed-cell insulations
  • EPS and XPS below grade insulations are covered under the same standard- ASTM C578
  • EPS has a more stable R-value and less long-term moisture retention than XPS
  • XPS is 20-40% more expensive for the same compressive strength

Cost Effective

  • Highest R-value per dollar
  • 100%, 20 year R-value warranty
  • 10-30% less than XPS insulations

Green From the Start

  • Up to 20 LEED points possible
  • 100% recyclable
  • contains up to 15% recycled content
  • Minimal job site waste
  • No thermal drift
  • Helps preserve energy and fossil fuels

R-Tech Uses

R-Tech has been used successfully for numerous commercial, industrial and residential applications:

  • Below grade insulation
  • Waterproofing protection board
  • Cavity walls
  • Interior walls
  • Cold storage & freezers
  • Sheathing
  • Concrete panel insulation
  • Concrete slabs
  • Radiant heated floors

PROJECT OR EPS QUESTIONS

Jason Myers

Jason Myers, Insulfoam Territory Sales Manager

Contact Jason Myers, Insulfoam Territory Sales Manager

Cell:  609-385-8930

Email:  Jason.Myers@insulfoam.com

Connect with Jason on LinkedIn  |  Follow Insulfoam on LinkedIn

 

Project Profile: Arizona Deep Residential Retrofit

 Deep Residential Retrofit  |  Phoenix, Arizona  |  View Project Profile (pdf)

1951 abandoned house is transformed into an energy-efficient home.

Arizona

Using strategies including the R-Tech Wall System, the home was able to achieve a high Gold rating certified under the Phoenix Green Construction Code.

Before

Before Retrofit

This Arizona residential retrofit became the first project to be certified under the Phoenix Green Construction Code, receiving a Gold rating from the program. The deep retrofit project aimed to conserve water and energy, on an existing 1,000 square-foot, abandoned house originally built in 1951, and transformed it into a cutting-edge, energy-efficient home with 1,970 square feet, four bedrooms, and two bathrooms. Using strategies including Insulfoam’s R-Tech in the wall assembly the home was able to achieve a high Gold rating. The R-Tech insulation panels are large and can be assembled in the wall system continuously to reduce the amount of gaps in insulation for cold air to escape, or warm air to come in. Reducing gaps and increasing insulation was key to this home being able to reach its energy goals.

THE PROBLEM

During Construction

During Retrofit

The project started with a 1951 home that was stripped and abandoned for over 5 years when it was acquired. The project team’s goals were to turn this 50’s style home into a sustainable residence of strategies on a budget of $95 per square foot, all while in the Arizona heat. The project team took the 1,000 square foot ranch style home and completely renovated the existing living space top to bottom, while adding another 900 square feet of living space. Insulfoam R-Tech was chosen to reach its goals of large reductions in energy use and reduce landfill waste during the construction process.

The R-Tech insulation panels are large and can be assembled in the wall system continuously to reach the following goals:  air infiltration and moisture penetration are eliminated, thermal bridging and thermal shock is greatly reduced, surface cracking is minimized, and the EPS material does not sustain mold and mildew growth. These benefits lead to lowered operating costs to improved occupant comfort. 

THE SOLUTION: R-Tech Wall System

R-Tech has no thermal drift.  Designers are well served knowing the R-Tech thermal properties will remain stable over its entire service life.

R-Tech has no thermal drift. Designers are well served knowing the R-Tech thermal properties will remain stable over its entire service life.

Environmentally Friendly: R-Tech contains no dyes, may contain recycled material and the foam core is 100% recyclable.

User Friendly: R-Tech can be ordered with the InsulSnap feature which scores the product longitudinally at any pre-ordered interval (commonly 16” or 24” o.c.). The InsulSnap feature minimizes labor by enabling the installer to cleanly break the product at the desired width while also minimizing product breakage and waste.

Insect and Mold Resistant: R-Tech is manufactured with an inert additive that deters termites and carpenter ants. R-Tech does not sustain mold and mildew growth.

Water Resistance: R-Tech facers provide a surface that is virtually impervious to moisture.

Jobsite Durability: With a polymeric facer on either side of the R-Tech, it is an extremely flexible and durable insulation.

Stable R-Value: R-Tech has no thermal drift. Designers are well served knowing the R-Tech thermal properties will remain stable over its entire service life. R-Tech is eligible for an Insulfoam 20-Year Thermal Performance Warranty – a warranty that’s not prorated or limited to a percentage of the published R-Value.

Cost Effective: R-Tech is typically less expensive than other comparable insulation products.

Proven Performance: The same fundamental chemistry has been in use since the mid-1950’s, so the actual performance of the product is well known. 

Insulfoam EPS:
From foundation to roof and everything in between

High Performance.  Lower Cost.  Most R-Value Per Dollar.  Many architects and contractors are familiar with EPS insulation as a cost-effective option for roof applications; however, EPS’ benefits expand a wide range making it easier than ever for designers to create an energy efficient building project.  InsulFoam EPS rigid foam insulation has been used for decades by smart industry professionals looking to achieve high thermal properties for a cost-effective price.  In fact, EPS offers more cost savings and higher R-Values than any other rigid insulation.  The benefit of lightweight EPS goes far beyond price, since it also helps contractors significantly decrease material and labor expenses.  View all EPS project profiles:  Roofing, Below Grade, Walls, Geofoam, Premier SIPs.

  • Roof Insulation Systems
  • Below Grade & Under Slab Insulation
  • Wall Insulation
  • Geofoam – Transportation & Earthworks
  • SIPS: Structural Insulated Panels
  • Building Envelope Insulation Systems
  • Architectural & Specialty Shapes
  • O.E.M.: Garage Doors, RVs, Cold Storage & More
  • Commercial & Residential

View Project Profile (pdf)