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Understanding home insulation

Categories: Blog, Home Building 101, Homeowner Tips | Posted: December 7, 2017

Every homeowner knows that insulating a home is important for comfort and energy efficiency. But it’s equally important to understand how home insulation works so you ensure you’re taking the right steps to effectively prevent the swap of interior and exterior temperatures.

Insulation provides resistance to heat flow. Heat flow is the movement of warm or hot air to cooler air. The flow continues until there is a balance of temperatures. For example, hot air will continue to flow into your home on a hot day until the inside temperature is equal to the outside. On a pleasant spring or fall day, you might open up the windows to take advantage of the ideal temperature. When the weather is more extreme, however, you need to manage the heat flow.

When you buy a new home, insulation is installed to slow down the movement of heat. Now, heat flow moves in three ways:

  • Conduction: Heat moves through a material, like a metal pot absorbing heat.
  • Convection: Heat circulates through liquids and gases, and since hot air is lighter, it rises above cold air.
  • Radiation: Heat travels along a straight path and absorbs energy from anything along that route.

So, your home insulation is installed in any place with exposure to heat flow: exterior walls, around the foundation, and in the roof, to name a few. Without insulation, the heat will move through the walls, floors, and ceilings—up from the basement, down from the attic, and in through the walls, doors, and windows. The goal of insulation is to produce resistant to the natural flow of heat.

R-value: The resistance factor

Home insulation products are rated for their thermal resistance factor, commonly known as R-value. This measurement is determined by the insulation type, thickness, and density. To determine how much home insulation you need, refer to a map that shows the R-value zones, rated on a scale from 1 to 7, with colder climates on the high end. Southern Florida and Hawaii score a 1 rating, while Alaska and northern Minnesota earn a 7.

You probably hear about radiant barriers. This reflective material doesn’t absorb heat, like insulation does. Instead, it reflects the heat. Radiant barriers are commonly installed on roofs to deflect the heat away from the roof (where it can be absorbed and potentially pass into the main part of the home). According to the U.S. Department of Energy, a radiant barrier on a home in a sunny climate (e.g., Zones 1-3) can reduce cooling costs by 5% to 10%.

Retrofitting an existing home with the correct amount of insulation could require a professional, depending on where and what type of insulation you need. New homes incorporate the standards for home insulation. They also improve the comfort and energy efficiency in a new home by installing moisture control and air sealing.

Spend a little time learning about your home’s insulation and you’ll spend much less later on the energy costs.

Garage organization: De-cluttering and storage tips

Categories: Blog, Homeowner Tips | Posted: November 9, 2017

The garage is probably one of the most preferred stash places in your home. The attic is great, but it can be difficult to access. The basement is good, if you have one, but you might worry about dampness. Or you have a finished basement that’s already full.

Rather than continue to pack and stack boxes and bury items so deep that they are essentially lost, spend some time reorganizing your garage. Take back the space! Here are some de-cluttering and storage tips for garage organization.

  • Start with a blank canvas. Remove all the clutter from the garage. Otherwise, you will be shifting things around, not truly organizing them. Sort things out as you go. Set up bins for “Discard”, “Donate”, and “Keep”. Eliminate all items that really aren’t worthy of valuable space (like your t-shirt collection from the 80s). Will you ever repair that broken thingamajig? Be honest with yourself. If these things are buried in your garage, are they worth keeping? Once the garage is empty, sweep and clean the floor. An empty garage is perfect for cleaning the various stains and repairing cracks. You might even consider painting the floor for a really fresh start.
  • Plan the storage zones. Think about the uses of your garage: tools, car care supplies, seasonal décor and clothing, sports gear, lawn and garden care, and paint/home repair, to name a few. You probably also need an area for your trash and recycling. Once you determine the storage zones, choose the most suitable place for each, based on the frequency of use. Label each area so you know where everything will go, and you can visibly see the flow from zone to zone.
  • Design the storage spaces. Your garage offers many options for creating storage zones. In addition to the walls, you have the overhead area where you can attach hooks and shelves. You can install cabinets and pegboards. Explore the local home centers to get ideas for smart storage systems. Invest in a lockable cabinet to store potentially hazardous items (chemicals, sharp tools).
  • Respect the new and improved space. Place the items from your “Keep” stash in the designated storage zones. Give all household members a tour of the new and improved garage and remind them that your garage storage system must be maintained.

Look at your calendar and schedule a weekend for garage organization. Use the reward of not just having a perfectly organized garage but also finding the treasures that have been long lost in the clutter!

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