Stay Toasty: 7 Tips for Improving Your Home's Insulation

Ben Kissam
Written by Ben Kissam
Updated March 9, 2022
Family playing on bed
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Highlights

  • Insulating your home can be a low-cost investment that helps reduce heating costs.

  • Different types of insulation work better in different spaces and for different home types, so do research or ask a professional for advice.

  • Putting thermal curtains on windows and caulking electrical outlets are affordable ways to insulate your home.

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Increased comfort, lower heating costs, and better soundproofing are just some of the things homeowners stand to gain by improving their home's insulation. Certain areas—even crevices—can let all your hot air out, especially in older houses. Fortunately, there are many things you can do, even if you're on a budget, to improve the situation.

Here are seven tips to improve your home's insulation.

1. Get A Home Energy Assessment

How's that old saying go? Oh yeah: work smarter, not harder. Of course, you'll improve your home's energy efficiency by adding insulation—but if you don't know where your home needs the most reinforcement, the task will probably take twice as long.

A professional home energy audit by a local pro will help you understand how much energy your home uses, where you can make improvements, and what you should prioritize if you're on a budget that'll make the biggest difference to your energy bills.

2. Understand the Different Types of Insulation 

The term 'insulation' covers many materials and strategies used to keep your home warm and energy-efficient. Do research first to understand the different types of insulation and which may be appropriate given your home's needs—and also know that a poorly insulated home may exhibit telltale signs you can look for.

Some popularly used types of home insulation include:

  • Blanket batts and rolls

  • Loose-fill insulation

  • Foam board/rigid foam

  • Reflected system insulation

  • Structural insulation panels (SIPs)

If, after researching the different types, you decide that adding new insulation is right for you, a local insulation company can help you understand your options.

3. Start With Unfinished Spaces

Unfinished spaces like your basement and attic are two prime candidates for heat loss. These areas likely lack insulation, so finding the gaps and adding some—even just a caulking agent to seal small holes or crevices—can make a huge difference.

Adding new insulation to your home costs about $5,200 on average. But if you're only adding it to one area, the cost may be much less.

4.  Seal Doors and Windows

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For some homeowners, opening up walls is a last-resort option, even if it's clear that the area is losing heat due to poor insulation. If installing new insulation isn't part of your plan, there's still plenty you can do, such as sealing doors and windows, to improve efficiency.

The best ways to insulate doors and windows include:

  • Adding weatherstripping seals at the base of door or windows

  • Sealing any obvious gaps using caulk

  • Installing backer rod, a type of foam rope, into large gaps or crevices

The tighter the seal, the more insulated it'll be, so choose the method that best fits the space. An insulation inspection and repair specialist can probably recommend the right product for you.

5. Add Thermal Curtains to Your Home

According to Energy.gov, 25% to 30% of home heat loss occurs through windows. Thermal curtains—which cost between $50 and $100—can be an easy solution to help prevent heat loss during cold winter months.

Made from thicker cotton or polyester, thermal curtains hold onto heat and prevent it from escaping windows. They're also good for preventing natural sunlight from coming in, which can make sleeping in on cold winter mornings easier.

6. Insulate Electrical Outlets

Perhaps surprisingly, a not-so-insignificant amount of heat loss occurs through your home's electrical outlets. You can seal these with a foam gasket or apply caulk to the edges to add a layer of insulation.

7. Prevent Moisture from Seeping In

In the northern U.S., wetness is a key cause in reducing home energy efficiency. When moisture creeps into walls containing insulation, it pads it down, making it denser but less effective. 

Adding a vapor barrier to your insulation can help. Just be sure you install it properly, as vapor barriers can exacerbate water damage and mold growth if they aren't laid down tightly over existing insulation. 

Putting a barrier over exposed pipes that may drip into walls or floors is also a good idea for preventing moisture from seeping in.

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