Insulation Audits – Find Out if Your Home Needs Additional Insulation

Does my home need more insulation? To answer that question you have to determine the amount of insulation you have in place already and then figure out if an additional amount would be a true savings. Typically, a newer home is going to have more insulation than an older model, but the best way to find out how well your home is insulated is to conduct an energy audit.

A certified auditor for will do a complete insulation inspection as part of a routine energy audit. You can contact your state energy office or local utility company for referrals to an audit or find out if your region offers free or subsidized audit programs. When the auditor comes in, he or she will identify exactly how much insulation you already have and how much more you need, if any. That person will also make other recommendations on how you can save additional energy in your home.

If you're rather do the assessment yourself, it's possible. You'll need to hunt down your insulation in a few places – the attic, along exterior walls, under floors and in cold crawl spaces or basements. In each spot, you'll need to measure the insulation thickness you have in place, identify the insulation type used and the condition that the insulation is in.

Your home may use one standard type of insulation or a varied mix. To identify the kind of insulation, use this mini-guide:

1. Fiberglass insulation – typically lightweight, and yellow, pink or white and installed in either loose-fill or in blank form (batts or rolls).

2. Cellulose insulation – loose fill cellulose is made of recycled newsprint, waste paper and cardboard. It's typically installed in small flat pieces.

3. Rock wool loose-fill insulation – Denser than fiberglass and usually gray, this product is a loose-fill.

First, check the attic and then check any walls or floors that are adjacent to unheated or cold spaces, like the garage or basement. If the structural elements, such as the wall frames, are exposed, you can easily inspect the insulation and measure its thickness. If the walls are finished, like with an exterior wall, cut off the power and remove an electrical outlet cover. Use this access point to test your insulation.

When you're done, compare your findings with recommended R-Values ​​issued by the Department of Energy. Their web site has a handy calculator ( ) that lets you type in your zip code and house details to find out your ideal insulation levels.