If home insulation was a character in a fairy tale, it’d be the plain, hardworking younger sister who never gets the attention her beautiful heart deserves. The flashy, vain and overly-fancy sisters would get all the looks, but never deliver the selfless value of Little Miss Insulation.
When we watch movies like these, we all know where real virtue is found. So why do our insulation dollars so often get seduced away by a countertop upgrade, a luxury floor option, or an alluring hot tub? Appearance. Our eyes easily fool us. And the hidden truth about insulation is that, well, it’s easily forgotten. It hides behind our painted walls or underneath our carefully chosen flooring. But what you might not realize is that besides making your home more comfortable in all seasons, insulation upgrades can also bring beautiful, flashy and high-end things to your life, too. You want a hot tub? A hardwood floor? A granite countertop? Upgrade insulation first, then let it pay for these items instead of you. All it takes is a few years and a little wisdom.
If your home is under-insulated now – and hundreds of thousands in North America are – adding batts or blown-in mineral fibre to the attic could save you enough to pay for a tropical vacation each year. Insulation upgrades could pay for a new car every 7 or 8 years, or put your new baby through college when the time comes.
Can you tell I like insulation? It’s easy when you understand what it can do for you. And it’s not just about money. A well-insulated home heated to 20ºC is actually more comfortable than a poorly insulated house that demands more energy to maintain that same 20ºC room temperature during winter. Fewer drafts and freedom from cold spots are the reasons why. The same goes for air conditioned spaces during summer. If you could feel the difference between the home you’ve got now and that same place with an insulation upgrade, you’d understand right away. Ultimately, insulation is a feeling, a good feeling.
So how much insulation is enough? Usually more than most professionals think. A contractor I know in Toronto, Ontario built a home for himself that has R-70 in the walls and R-90 in the attic. That’s roughly double what ordinary new homes get now. “Experts” will tell you this builder is crazy, yet his heating bill is less than $20 a month during winter. Sure, this place is also built exceptionally well, but it would never perform the way it does without insulation levels that go way beyond code.
On a scale of 1 to 10, how important is insulation for your home? That depends on what you’ve got now. Many Canadian homes have less than 8 inches in the attic. If that’s you, then an insulation upgrade is a 9 or 10 on the scale of importance. It’ll save you more ongoing money than a new, high-efficiency furnace costing thousands more.
Insulation is like the goose that lays golden eggs. Bring her into your life, make a nest for her, then be patient. She’ll save you enough money to do things with your home you’d normally have to pay for.