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In today's world of high energy costs, electric and gas bills can truly be a terror. While more and more people are turning off lights when they leave a room and buying energy efficient appliances, these measures are only a fraction of the battle. It is estimated that anywhere between 50% and 70% of the average American home's energy is used for heating or cooling.
Unless your house was specifically built with energy efficiency in mind, chances are that your home insulation can be made better. Insufficient home insulation is probably costing your family more than you imagine in dollars and comfort as well.
Home Insulation in Older Houses
The biggest group of insulation culprits is older houses. When these classic homes were constructed, heating costs were lower, cooling unit meant ceiling fan, and insulation materials were less effective. Its natural desire, if you live in one of these houses, is to preserve it and try to keep it as authentic and original as possible. The charm that comes with an older house, however, shouldn't be effected by modern insulation techniques.
New Home Insulation
Houses built using modern insulation technology and under new building code guidelines will definitely be more energy efficient than one of its predecessors. This doesn't mean that additional insulation won't be beneficial. Those who are thinking of building a new house should note that, in order to keep prices more attractive, some builders initially offer a level of insulation that adheres to, but does not surpass, minimum building code requirements. An additional investment in home insulation will automatically increase your home's value, and should pay for itself in space conditioning costs.
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Should you add more insulation? That's a question best answered by a professional. If your heating and cooling costs are high (and let's face it, whose aren't?) it might be worth the money to have a pro come and check out your house. They will inspect the attic and wall insulation. If you have a basement, they'll check that, too. An inspector may also check for gaps in insulation that cause leaks around vents, bathroom and kitchen fixtures, or around light sockets.
If it's established that more insulation would make a significant difference in your energy consumption, whether or not you can do it yourself will depend mostly on where the problem lies. Attics are often the biggest energy waster. Attic insulation, however, is generally easy to access and to supplement or replace. Professional advice should be sought, especially in older homes, regarding the possible fire hazard posed by covering up electrical wiring with insulate. A home's exterior wall insulation is not easily accessed. If problems with wall insulation are present, they are often fixed with a spray type insulate that should be professionally installed.