Carbon Footprint Reduction of Insulating Your Home

Katy Willis
Written by Katy Willis
Updated June 10, 2021
Insulated attic with sunshine coming in through the window
BanksPhotos/iStock/Getty Images Plus/Getty Images

Insulating your home is one of the easiest—and most effective—ways to reduce your carbon footprint and save money

Get quotes from up to 3 pros!
Enter a zip below and get matched to top-rated pros near you.

Our homes are among the biggest contributors to greenhouse gasses, producing huge amounts of carbon emissions as we live our daily lives. One of the easiest ways we can live a more eco-conscious life is to reduce the carbon footprint of our homes. The best part: there’s an easy way to cut carbon output without changing how you live. 

Retrofitting better insulation or installing new insulation to Model Energy Code standards could reduce your home's carbon footprint by as much as 30%. If every home that lacked adequate insulation (which, according to the Insulation Institute, is 90% of U.S. homes) the U.S.’s total carbon emissions could reduce by a jaw-dropping amont. 

Not only that, installing new insulation reduces your home's energy consumption and therefore saves you money, too. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, you'll save up to $200 per year.

Problems With Old Insulation

Sure, your old insulation might be getting you by. But there's a good chance that, if it was installed pre-1992, it doesn't meet modern efficiency standards. After all, the materials, tech, and guidelines contractors had in 1950 don’t quite align with what we know now. 

Many homes were also built with no insulation, just empty wall cavities that allow the house to breathe and expel moisture. And if you just start filling these types of homes with insulation willy nilly, you'll end up with SBS, or Sick Building Syndrome. This creates all kinds of problems such as mold growth and wood rot, stemming from trapping moisture in the insulation. So before you start a DIY insulation project, it's a better idea to call a local insulation pro for guidance.

Types of Insulation

While fiberglass batts have been the standard for decades, there are plenty of other types of insulation for homes today.

  • Fiberglass batts: This insulation is inexpensive at approximately $0.30 per sq. ft. and moisture- and fire-resistant. It requires extra care when handling because it sheds irritating fibers.

  • Rockwool: At $0.60 per sq. ft., it’s easy to work with.

  • Cotton: Costs $0.90 per sq. ft., is easy to cut, and contains up to 85% recycled fibers

  • Foam boards: This insulation costs $0.19–$0.80 per sq. ft. and has a high insulation value compared to the thickness of the material. But it does require an additional fire-resistant covering at extra expense.

  • Spray foam: This insulation forms an air barrier and is pretty pricey, at $1 to $3 per sq. ft.. The closed-cell type is moisture-resistant.

The Cost of New Insulation

The cost of new insulation varies. Attic insulation costs between $1 and $7 per square foot, installed, while basement insulation costs $2.30 to $3.50 per square foot, including installation. 

For small jobs that just require a can of spray foam from the store, you can DIY for just a few dollars. And, if you have the time and skill, you can install rolls of batting yourself to save on installation costs. 

But for the best results and the most efficient, low-carbon home, it's best to hire an insulation specialist to do the work for you while you sit back and plan how you're going to spend all the money you'll be saving on utilities.

The Savings of New Insulation

Adding new efficient insulation can reduce your home’s carbon footprint by 30% and saves you up to 15% on heating and cooling costs. This is a saving of roughly 11% of total energy costs and works out to approximately $200 per year, so it won't take long for the insulation to pay for itself. 

And the effect on your carbon emissions is instant, so insulating your home the right way is one of the best (and easiest) ways to lower your excess greenhouse gas production. The more effective your home's insulation, the less air escapes, the longer the home stays at your desired temperature. And because less demand is placed on your HVAC system, it uses less energy, reducing your carbon footprint. 

And, as an added bonus, insulating your home adequately can add value to your property and might even earn you a tax credit.

Where Should You Insulate?

Most homeowners think of the obvious places that require insulation: the attic, the basement, and maybe the exterior walls. But, a local professional contractor, after examining your property, may advise insulating other areas to have the most efficiency and biggest carbon-reduction impact. This can include:

  • Attic access door

  • Basement access door

  • Shed roofs

  • Storage areas

  • Garages

  • Floors above cold spaces like vented crawl spaces

  • Ducts in unconditioned areas

  • Crawlspace

Need professional help with your project?
Get quotes from top-rated pros.