Common Myths and Misconceptions About Residential Insulation

Quick! Can you spot which of the following statements is false?

  • Insulation is only necessary in cold climates. 
  • All insulation types are equal in performance.
  • The more insulation, the better. 
  • It’s really expensive to add insulation to your home.

Trick question – they’re all false (sorry!). So, let’s explore these insulation myths, as well as a few others, that are common among homeowners or prospective home buyers.

Myth: Insulation is only important for cold climates or in cold months

It’s a common misconception that the only role of insulation is to keep a home warm in cold temperatures. And while this is definitely true, insulation plays a critical role in hot temperatures too. Insulation helps create a thermal barrier. It keeps indoor spaces cooler in hot weather and warmer in cold weather. Proper insulation can lower cooling costs by minimizing heat gain in a home during hot temps, and can also help prevent heat loss in cold months so your furnace doesn’t have to run as often. (Want to know more? Check out this blog: Home Insulation – It’s Not Just for Winter Months.)

Myth: All insulation types perform the same

Like personalities, insulation types vary and each has its own specific characteristics and applications in which it performs optimally. Fiberglass batts, blown-in fiberglass and spray foam, for example, all have distinct properties that affect their ability, R-value and suitability for different locations in a home. Insulation is not a one-type-fits-all-solutions product. An insulation professional can help you determine which product will provide the performance you’re looking for, and be cost effective, for your needs.

Myth: The more insulation, the better the performance

In the case of insulation, more is not always better. Once your home reaches an optimal level of insulation, additional insulation will not further improve energy efficiency. You’ll spend more money on adding insulation without getting additional energy savings in return. This is why it’s important to follow guidelines and install the recommended R-values for your specific climate. In doing so, you’ll maximize your energy savings while maintaining a comfortable living environment, and without paying for unnecessary insulation.

Myth: You can compact insulation to increase efficiency

Much like the previous myth, increasing the density of insulation does not lead to better efficiency, and in fact can have the opposite effect. Insulation materials work by trapping air within their structure, so if that insulation is compressed, the air pockets are squeezed out and the insulation then loses its ability to resist heat transfer. Then, the R-value decreases and the insulation’s effectiveness is lowered. When manufacturer guidelines for proper insulation installation are followed, you’ll be assured that your insulation is functioning at its optimal performance level.

Myth: Only old homes need additional insulation

The only real way to determine whether a home needs additional insulation is to have it assessed by a professional. Modern building codes require certain levels of insulation in new construction, but codes and standards get updated and/or adopted every few years, so even a relatively new home might actually benefit from additional insulation. Similarly, a 60-year-old home might have gone through an energy audit at some point in the past and be operating at top levels. Homes should be evaluated for current insulation levels as well as local climate conditions and regulations.

Myth: Adding insulation to your home is expensive

Adding insulation to your home will give homeowners excellent return on investment – often 100% ROI in as little as two years! The EPA estimates that by adding insulation, a typical home can save an average of 15% on heating and cooling bills. That adds up fast, plus it helps the environment. And as an added incentive, homeowners can qualify for tax credits on insulation projects. With the 25C Energy Efficient Home Improvement Credit through the IRS, homeowners can claim a tax credit of up to 30% of the cost of insulation materials installed, for a max of $1,200 each year.

Learn more about the Inflation Reduction Act and how it can benefit you here