The Insulation Situation

insulation situationGoing green is all the rage these days. Oftentimes there are great incentives that can help you to save the green that goes in your wallet, yes I’m talking about dollars, as you attempt to get to a greener state.

My wife Emily and I just bought a house and started renting out the home we lived in before (blog post for another day). When we moved in we realized that there just was not a whole lot of insulation in the attic. As the coldest month of the year approached we really wanted to make sure we were not wasting heat, and therefore money, right through our roof. I started doing some research and discovered that there are some great rebates through most power companies for insulating your attic. Even better we discovered that insulation is pretty easy to do yourself.

The big box home improvement stores, at least the two near me, both offer free rental of an insulation blower with the purchase of 20 bags of insulation. With the actual bags costing around $11 you are talking around $220 out of pocket (although your home could likely use more insulation than that). It usually take two people to do the job effectively, although I have seen that it is possible to make it happen as a one person operation if you have some serious gumption.

My friend Jay came over to help me and the worst part of the morning was actually picking up the blower and insulation. The first store we went to didn’t have the equipment even though I had called the night before to check. They certainly didn’t score points with me in the customer service arena. So we went to the next one down the road and loaded our cars up with the bags of insulation and the blower. It took us roughly an hour and fifteen minutes to blow 23 bags of cellulose insulation into my attic, and it was actually kind of fun doing it. Bonus, I looked like Snuggles the bear afterwards with a thick coat of lint all over me.

If your energy bills are too high and you want to cut them down to size check and see what your insulation situation is. You might not have enough and it might be costing you big dough. You don’t have to pay a company a thousand bucks or more to remedy that situation either. It really is simple to do yourself, and that is coming from a guy who can do very little around the home himself.

Don’t forget to check with your local power company for possible reimbursements. It could cut the cost down even more. I spent $274 at the home improvement store and am waiting on my check that covers half of that. Yes, half! I should recoup my actual cost with energy savings in about a year. Not too shabby.

My next home improvement project is replacing my old toilets that use too much water. Did you know that your local water municipality most likely offers a rebate on replacing your old commode? Mine will pay up to $100 a toilet and will do that for up to 2 toilets. Consumer Reports recommends a great low flow toilet for $100. That means free toilets and saving money every month on my water bill! Toilets make up about 30% of your overall water bill and as water rates continue to rise this will help keep your monthly water bill in check.

Check into these plentiful rebates and hopefully you can turn your home into an energy sipping machine at a negligible cost. It will be well worth it considering the sweet savings you’ll have throughout the years.

8 Comment responses

  1. Avatar
    February 05, 2013

    I agree with your thought that you have written in third paragraph that ‘If your energy bills are too high and you want to cut them down to size check and see what your insulation situation is. You might not have enough and it might be costing you big dough’. You have done great work and added here an interesting post about insulation; i want to say thanks for sharing this post.

    Reply

    • Avatar
      February 05, 2013

      Thanks Mike. It has already put a dent in our heating bills this Winter so we couldn’t be happier. Because of the rebate and doing it myself I think the payoff is going to be incredibly quick which is definitely a plus.

      Reply

      • Avatar
        February 22, 2013

        Curious about the statement that it ‘has put a dent in your heating bills.’ My bills are much lower this year, but natural gas prices have come way down. And it’s been a warm winter (warmer than last year?…I’m not sure. I think so, so far). Wondering if you looked at how much gas you actually used this year v. last. And if you took the avg temp this winter into consideration, as well as any changes in you habits (e.g. we’re using more heat this year because it’s cheaper, but still saving money over last year). Sorry to be overly analytical! Just wondering if you dug into the variables at all. I sense the payback time period is greater than generally claimed (especially for folks paying more to insulate than you did). Great blog, though!

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        • Avatar
          February 22, 2013

          Hey Glenn,

          I totally agree with you that it takes longer than most people say to pay back your insulating costs. That is a giant part of the reason that I decided to do it myself. It just doesn’t seem worth it if it takes years and years to pay back. And since we actually recently moved I haven’t been in the house long enough to know all the variables. I saw the bill from our first month (before insulation) and our second and third months (after insulation) and it was roughly $20 lower a month for us. We also have noticed that the heat doesn’t kick on nearly as often. I wish I had done a more scientific study now though! Thanks for your comment.

          Reply

  2. Avatar
    February 10, 2013

    I bought a house that, come to find out, has very little insulation in the walls and no attic. It’s cold in the winter and hot in the summer. Is there any way to add insulation without completely tearing the house apart? Or do you have any suggestions to help bring down the gas and electric bills?

    Reply

    • Avatar
      February 11, 2013

      Hey Jennifer,

      There are some tutorials online to help you learn how to do that. Check youtube.com for videos that walk you through the process. When I was at the home improvement store they mentioned that there is a special attachment that helps you poke small holes into the drywall to get insulation into. I think it is more difficult than blowing straight into the attic and you will have to patch those holes afterwards. I have the same issue and am hoping to someday try insulating my walls as well.

      A couple of other things to try are:
      - Turning your thermostat down. For every degree you turn it down you will save around 3% on your monthly bill. Especially when you aren’t at home and at night when you are tucked under the covers, turn it down.
      - Caulking around doors and windows. That helps to lessen the draftiness and it is pretty simple. Also, using blackout curtains on certain windows that might be particularly drafty can make a big difference.
      - Using your attic fan. If there is an abnormally warm day in the winter, open the windows and turn on your attic fan. Also, if it has been a hot summer day but that night is super cool, do the same thing. Attic fans will bring in the fresh air very quickly and so instead of using energy to heat or cool your home you are using the natural air outside. I love attic fans.

      I hope that helps. Good luck lowering your bills. Let me know if any of these solutions work for you.

      Reply

  3. Avatar
    March 28, 2013

    I also did a DIY insulation job in my attic last year, but through my research online I came to understand that here in the south air sealing is as important as the depth of the insulation. I bought a 500 sq ft disposable spray kit of 2 part foam and I peeled back my old insulation first and coated everything on the attic floor that looked like an opening. I covered electrical/light boxes, seams where the drywall came together, openings for wires or vents,etc… Then I laid back in my old insulation, and I did as Joel did and rented a blower and put in more fluffy insulation over the old stuff. When i peeled back my old insulation the first time it was black because so much air was passing right through the insulation and the dirt in the air got trapped as the air went through (hence the black).

    There was some other stuff we did too like replacing a leaky exit door to the garage, and putting in a chimney balloon to a fireplace we don’t use anyway. But all told i spent about $600. When i look at the 2012-13 heating bill compared to 2011-12 (before we did this work), We saved about $350 during the heating months and about $200 in the cooling months when comparing one year to another .

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  4. Avatar
    March 29, 2013

    Jason,

    Great advice man. You sound like a DIY expert! Don’t forget to claim the power company rebates if you have them in your area.

    Reply

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