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Monday, 7 December 2009

Old house gets an energy boost

We just bought ourselves a house and we couldn't be more thrilled. It's an old fixer-upper, so we were able to get everything on our wish-list (lots of square feet, a beautiful garden, great location) except for, of course, a home in mint condition. I have a feeling I'll be doing a lot of DIY home improvement themed posts in the future.

Anyway, last weekend's project was getting our heating bill under control. Our house is nearly 100 years old and has little to no insulation, especially in the attic. As a result, the furnace was working overtime and we were biting our nails, stressing about how much oil was left in the tank.

So, to keep all our precious heat from escaping through the roof, we spent the greater part of Sunday laying insulation on the attic floor. The idea is that the insulation will stop the heat from entering the attic and heating up a space we don't use. Luckily for us, our attic is high enough to stand up in, so laying down the insulation was a fairly easy task. On the downside, the attic is huge, so there was a lot of insulation to buy.

To keep our costs down, we spent a few weeks researching the prices at different local shops. Eventually we found some glass wool insulation on sale. Even with our large attic and the high price of materials in Denmark (everything costs more here, not least due to a 25% sales tax), this project cost us only a couple hundred dollars. It pays to look for discounts.

The hardest part of this project was lugging the big bags of insulation up the stairs. Laying it down on the floor was relatively easy and quick. But, as with all DIY projects, planning is key. Here are some tips you should consider:

  • Measure the floorspace of your attic carefully so you don't buy more insulation than you need. Most stores will let you return unopened packages, but you'll waste time and money driving them back to the store.
  • Clear a space in your house or garage to store the insulation before you bring it home or have it delivered. You may not be able to put the insulation in the attic the same day you purchase it and glass wool insulation takes up a LOT of space.
  • If you don't own a trailer or truck to bring the insulation back to your home, make sure you factor the price of delivery into your total cost comparison between stores. We found a store that would let us borrow a trailer for free.
  • Remember to wear proper safety equipment, like gloves and face masks. If you need to purchase these things, put them on the list now, so you don't forget and have to make another trip to the hardware store.
Since completing this project, we've noticed a huge difference in the temperature in the attic. Before, it was pretty warm. Now when I open the attic door a wave of cold air hits me. That's a lot of heat we're saving and the furnace can take a break.

All in all, this project was a success. Laying glass wool insulation on the attic floor is a cheap and cost effective way to make an old house just a little more energy efficient.

1 comment:

EcoFoil said...

You should also consider installing radiant barrier over the exisiting batt or blown-in insulation.Fiberglass and cellulose insulation work by slowing down heat transfer from one source to another. Thats why the thicknesses of those insulations are crucial for performance. Also, fiberglass and cellulose only resist heat transfer, they don't block or reflect it so it eventually escapes through. Our perforated radiant barrier can be installed over top of existing attic insulation to form a reflective cover to enhance your other insulation. When installing radiant barrier over the attic floor you must use the perforated radiant barrier for maximum breathability. Moist air that is created inside your home must be able to escape as it rises through your ceiling. If a perforated radiant barrier is not used, the moisture will be trapped in between the barrier and your ceiling. When trapped this will cause condensation to form inside the building materials and insulation creating damage and mold.