From windows and doors, to appliances, space heating and cooling, home electronics and more, most Americans these days agree that energy efficient products, technologies, and practices are important. Not just from a cost savings standpoint, but also as part of a collective environmental consciousness designed to lower our environmental footprint.
This focus and consciousness plays an important role in today’s homebuilding, as home builders, subcontractors, and suppliers strive to construct homes that are more efficient, affordable, and comfortable.
Among the areas where custom home builders place great emphasis is insulation—recognized as one—if not the most important and cost-effective energy-saving building materials in a home. In fact, without proper insulation, many of the other energy-efficient components will not reach their peak performance capacity.
Insulation is rated based on an R-value—the value resistance to heat flow. The higher the R-value, the equally higher resistance to heat flow. Consequently, the more energy efficient the insulation, the lower the monthly utility bills will be year-round. This is of particular importance to us here in Kansas City, MO and across the Midwest, because our homes generally get a double whammy in the summer and winter.
There are numerous good insulation materials and processes on the market (many of which qualify for energy tax credits), including fiberglass batts and rolls that can be laid in place, stapled or nailed; foam board; loose-fill fiberglass or cellulose that is blown into place; or sprayed foam products. At HBC Construction, we have worked with all of these products but recommend the use of Optima where possible, a blown-in, fiberglass insulation that provides a custom-designed, seamless, thermally efficient sound-reducing blanket.
Optima is environmentally friendly, long-lasting, and when you look at the cost to install it in comparison to how long before you’d see a return on that investment, it is less than five years. With some other materials, you might not experience that great of a return for almost 20 years.
The key is making sure that all areas of your home— not just the attic and outside walls —are well insulated. This includes basement walls, around perimeters of slabs, ceilings with unheated spaces above including dormer ceilings, band and header joists, floors over unheated or open spaces such as over garages or porches, floors above vented crawl spaces, cathedral or vaulted ceilings, and sloped walls and ceilings of attics finished as living areas, just to name a few.
It’s also important to note that good insulation provides acoustical comfort, helping to reduce sound transmission between rooms or from the outside, as well as from appliances, heating and air conditioning systems, televisions and radios, and washers and dryers.
By working closely with your custom home builders, homeowners can achieve the perfect balance of insulation energy efficient cost, comfort, and value for years to come.
In addition to her role as Co-Owner and Operator of HBC Construction, Chris is also Vice President of theHome Builders Association of Greater Kansas City.