Although the emphasis on saving home heating and cooling energy has been on attic insulation, exterior walls have a similar surface area that transmits energy.
Homes built prior to 1960 had no insulation or at best R-5. Between 1960 and 1980’s average R values increased to about R-11.
Insulating wall cavities that were empty or under-insulated will save energy. A 2″ x 4″ stud framed wall filled with expanding foam insulation will provide an insulating value of R-22.
Before insulating side walls you need to find out what is in there. Visual inspection through openings may reveal what is already in place, if anything, or an infrared thermal imaging will reveal heat loss in areas that are hidden or have varying insulating value.
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Spray Insulation is worth looking into for many reasons, even if it’s not always the ideal solution. Although it is more likely to be the best option for new construction, its features also serve the needs of many existing homeowners who are adding to or trying to improve their homes.
For example, even if the spraying must be done by professionals, and therefore is more costly than other options, the high R-value of spray insulation can make it cost- effective over time, through lower heating bills. In very cold or hot climates this advantage may be well worth the cost.
Spray insulation also carries the advantage of filling uneven areas well. The sprayed foam expands to fill cracks and fit into irregular spaces that would be difficult to work around with other kinds of insulation. The do-it-yourself handyman might be very relieved not to have to work in difficult nooks and crannies, and to just let expansion of the foam do the work.
Another advantage is that spray insulation adheres well to the surface onto which it is sprayed. If a house is being expanded upward, to a second story, then spray insulation under the new floor will be securely in place and offer good insulation for years. It might be a better solution than trying to attach other forms of insulation in such a space.
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