The Mountain Times

°F Sun, April 20, 2014

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Ask the Home Team: Proper insulation installation is key

QUESTION: We're turning our back porch into a year-round room. We've got construction experience but we only know enough about insulation to be dangerous. Between fiberglass and cellulose, which works best and what R value should we use?

ANSWER: Great question. For wood-framed walls, I typically recommend an R value of 19 (the higher the R value, the better a material insulates). Cellulose does a better job of filling spaces, including irregular spaces. If you're going to use fiberglass, it's best if you use it in cavities that match the dimensions of the fiberglass batts.

The best tip I can give you about insulation, though, isn't about the materials. It's about making sure that a thorough job of air sealing is done first and that the insulation is installed properly, along with a continuous air barrier. Good installation can mean the difference between a comfortable room and one with drafts/air leaks that cost you in higher heating bills. A proper job also won't trap moisture and create an environment for mold and wood rot.

The most effective and energy-saving approach is to hire a professional.

But seeing as you're do-it-yourselfers, I have a tip for you: Weatherization Skillshops are available to Vermonters who have the skills to do their own home improvements but who want more knowledge. At these workshops, given around the state, you can learn about air sealing, insulation, finding and fixing air leaks and more. Information is available at www.efficiencyvermont.com/insulation. Click on "Do it yourself home energy improvements". Good luck with the project!

-Li Ling for Ask The Home Team