Forty eight percent – that’s how much every homeowner’s total utility bill goes toward heating and cooling costs, according to estimates from the U.S. Department of Energy. For most U.S. homes, it’s the single-handed largest energy expense. While it’s only natural to want to save on these energy costs, for many homeowners, it takes a bit more than installing programmable thermostats, door insulation strips and window inserts to notice a significant difference. That’s where new insulation can make a big difference, however the question of whether or not it’s necessary isn’t always easily answered – there are signs you need to watch out for. Here are five of them:
- Continuous A/C, Furnace Operation: One of the more obvious signs that you need new insulation is if you notice your air conditioning and furnace running seemingly non-stop in the summer and winter months, respectively. Insulation doesn’t just help reduce your energy costs, but it helps to minimize the wear and tear that’s put on these appliances as well.
- High Energy Bills: To piggyback off of the previous point, the more your air conditioning and furnace run, the more energy you’re using. And the more energy you use, the higher your utilities bill is going to be. If you think your energy bills are too high, do a little investigating to compare your home to the average home in your area. You can even elect to have an energy audit conducted to get a better idea of how much energy you’re using and how much insulation can help in your situation. It’s estimated that average-sized homes with poor insulation can save up to $1,500 a year in utility costs following the installation of insulation, so there’s definitely a significant return on investment.
- Room-by-Room Temperature Fluctuations: That temperature drop in the winter or increase in the summer that you feel when you walk from one room to another in your home isn’t a coincidence – it’s likely a sign that you either need new insulation or have substandard insulation in certain areas of the home.
- Ice Dams: Ice dams form when melting roof snow refreezes as it comes into contact with the cold surface of the gutter. This action often prevents subsequent roof snow melt from draining properly and can lead to roof damage and interior water damage. Ice dams often form when heat escapes through the attic, helping snow melt on the roof. Therefore, insulating the attic can help prevent their formation by preventing heat from escaping, which helps your energy bill and also lowers the risk of your home sustaining damage from ice dams.
- Moisture in the Attic: See water stains on the ceiling? Have you noticed leaks in the attic? While poor insulation may not be the only culprit behind this, there’s a good chance that it plays a role in it. This is largely because poor insulation helps outside air into the home, and certain conditions can promote leaks, moisture and subsequent mold growth.