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Provincial governments have a big role to play in how much money home and business owners can save on their heating bills

Monday, October 23rd 2006 8:36:03am

Insulating yourself against energy costs

(Ottawa, October 22, 2006)  With the heating season upon us, NAIMA Canada, the association of fibre insulation manufacturers, would like to remind homeowners that increasing the amount of insulation in their homes remains one of the best things they can do for the environment and their wallets.

By adding insulation, you lower the amount of energy needed to heat your home, resulting in fewer associated greenhouse gas emissions and a lower monthly heating bill.

Inadequate insulation is one of the main reasons why the average Canadian home can lose up to 50 percent of its energy. Adding insulation will provide a lifetime of comfort and energy savings.

Steve Koch, executive director of NAIMA Canada, believes each province has more to do when it comes to providing incentives for citizens to adopt energy saving techniques.

“Because of inconsistencies in each province, with regard to building code standards for insulation, home and business owners are losing money every time their furnaces click on. If provincial governments are serious about energy conservation, then why not change the building code to include higher standards for wall, attic and foundation insulation?”

While pleased with the direction provinces like Ontario and Quebec have taken in moving to incorporate energy efficiency into the building code, Koch added, “All provincial governments must adopt additional measures like British Columbia, which provides a tax rebate for energy-saving building products, such as weather stripping, insulation, heat pumps and the like. This kind of incentive, along with labelling the energy efficiency of buildings, will go a long way ensuring the long term success of energy conservation efforts.”

For more information on how insulation saves energy and money, visit www.naimacanada.ca.


For more information or high resolution images, please contact:

Steve Koch, Executive Director, NAIMA Canada, (613) 232-8093, contact@naimacanada.ca

NAIMA Canada is the association for North American manufacturers of fibre glass, rock wool, and slag wool insulation products doing business in Canada.  Its role is to promote energy efficiency and environmental preservation through the use of fibre glass, rock wool, and slag wool insulation, and to encourage the safe production and use of these materials. NAIMA Canada is a sister organization to the North American Insulation Manufacturers Association (NAIMA).

Where you can add insulation

To achieve maximum thermal efficiency, comfort and energy savings, it is important to insulate any space where energy could be lost.

1.  Attics and ceilings

The attic is one of the largest sources of potential heat loss and is often neglected when it comes to insulation, even in homes that are less than ten years old.

Regardless of whether you use your attic as a living space, insulation is essential. Warm air rises, and if an attic is lacking the proper type and amount of insulation, heat will escape through the roof.  Consequently, you will want to add between R-8 and R-30 insulation to the existing insulation (R-value is a measure of thermal resistance).  

If your attic is unfinished, you, or a contractor, can install either fiber glass, mineral wool or blown-in insulation in the ceiling joists.  If the attic is finished, fiber glass and mineral wool blown-in insulations are the best options.

To achieve R-values of 40 and higher, two layers of fiber glass insulation can be used to combine their R-values. For example, R-20 in the joist and R-25 in the top will yield an R-45. If you can increase the value to a combined R-55, you will save more money.

Make sure to apply the second layer across the joists to maximize protection.  

2.  Don’t forget the walls

The walls between living spaces and unheated garages, storage rooms, dormer walls, and above the ceilings of adjacent lower sections of split-level homes are often overlooked.  Insulating these areas, when possible, will save heat and help minimize noise.

If you are able to access the walls when renovating, be sure to upgrade insulation and vapour barriers. For 2 x 4 construction, use the highest R-value, R-12 to R-14.  For 2 x 6 construction, use R-19 to R-22.  

It’s unwise to compress a batt (a rectangular piece of insulation) for 2 x 6 construction to make it fit into a 2 x 4 construction.  The compression will reduce the R dramatically.  R -19 compressed into a 2 x 4 construction, for example, would result in an R value of less than 12.  The insulation should fit snuggly, but shouldn’t be compressed.

3.  Floors

R-20 (or higher) insulation is usually cut into small pieces to fit snugly between the floor joists, sills and band joists.  Full batt insulation of R-25 can be used on the ceilings above unheated basements, crawlspaces, garages and porches.

4.  Basements and crawlspaces

In an otherwise well-insulated house, as much as 25% of the total home heat loss can occur through uninsulated foundation walls and floors.

If the basement is an unheated space and isn’t used as a living area, insulate between the floor joists for the room above, instead of around the exterior or perimeter walls.  This keeps conditioned air in the living areas where it belongs, and out of the basement. R-25 insulation is recommended.

Conversely, if the basement is going to be heated and used, you need to insulate the basement walls. The simplest method is to build 2 x 4 frames against the concrete foundation walls and use R-12 to R-22 fiber glass or mineral wool insulation beneath the drywall. Vapor retarders should face heated areas and be covered as soon as possible.

If the basement is already finished, it is difficult to add insulation without tearing out the drywall. In this instance, look at other areas of your home that are easier to access for places to add insulation.

For crawlspaces, fiber glass and mineral wool insulation are the most typical products used to insulate these areas. R-20 to R-22 insulation can be cut into small pieces to fit snugly between the floor joists, against sills and between band joists.

If a crawlspace wall is vented, you should insulate the floors above with R-25 and not the crawlspace walls.

When insulating the walls, make sure to verify that the walls are dry and do not leak ground moisture.

While adding insulation can save a lot of energy, it is benefited by good construction methods; including a moisture resistant exterior barrier, a vapour barrier on the heated side and proper ventilation and energy efficient windows.  All of these components work together to make for a healthy, comfortable and cost effective home.

For more on the life cycle and environmental attributes of fiber glass and rock and slag wool insulations, visit www.naima.org/pages/benefits/environ/environ.html.


For more information or high resolution images, please contact:

Steve Koch, Executive Director, NAIMA Canada, (613) 232-8093, contact@naimacanada.ca