Spray foam insulation has grown exponentially in popularity among construction professionals for its versatility, high "R" rating, and durability. It's also incredibly energy efficient, providing home and building owners with an opportunity to lower their energy costs throughout cold winters.
Spray foam insulation is typically made from open and closed cell polyurethane-based products. There are two liquid chemical components that when mixed, form a solid that expands to fill the cavity into which it's sprayed. Polyurethane is made from isocyanate and polyol. Isocyanate is made from methylene diphenyl diisocyanate (MDI). Newer compositions can contain castor oil instead of polyol, which is safer for those handling the product.
It should always be applied by a professional installer using highly specialized equipment. The installation process consists of preparing the surface to be coated by cleaning it of dust, dirt, and moisture. The material is sprayed onto the surface under pressure, using a spray foam gun and proportioner that mixes and sprays the product to specific requirements depending on the type of application. Upon contact with the surface being treated, the material solidifies into a semi-rigid foam covering that is moisture resistant, sound deadening, and has "R" values up to 6.5, which is well in excess of many traditional insulating materials.
A home or building that's well-sealed and well-insulated is guaranteed to be energy efficient, which is key to reducing utility bills no matter the time of the year. Spray foam insulation ensures both airtightness and thermal protection in the building envelope, which is particularly relevant to residential homes that can lose up to 30% of heating and cooling efficiency through air leakage.
Air leakage can be an ongoing occurrence, no matter the size of the home. It typically occurs through the roof, attic or basement. With its ability to improve energy efficiency and lower utility bills, especially in the winter when heating a home is a necessity, spray foam insulation provides homeowners with their best return-on-investment.
Spray foam insulation achieves air sealing and thermal insulation in a single application, providing homeowners with benefits beyond saving money on utility bills. By hiring a spray foam professional to apply insulation to your home, it will be warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer, while enhancing air circulation and air quality. It's also easier to control moisture levels in the air, which reduces the likelihood of issues related to mold or mildew.
How to Determine if Your Home Needs an Insulation Upgrade
If your home is more than 40 or 50 years old, it may benefit from an inspection and possibly an insulation upgrade. Determining if an insulation upgrade is needed is simple in areas such as unfinished attics, basements, and crawl spaces where it is easy to see areas that do not have insulation installed. In finished areas, the process can be more complicated.
Many homes over 70 years old may have little or no insulation unless owners have upgraded over the years. Even in these cases, many early upgrades were inadequate, or the insulation may have degraded over the years.
What Kind of Savings Can You Expect From Spray Foam Insulation
There are many online calculators that will help you determine the actual monthly energy savings you can expect by installing spray foam insulation. General estimates suggest you can expect savings ranging from 5% to 40% of your annual utility bills, which depending on where you live, can add up to hundreds of dollars per year. Actual savings will depend on the difference between the current insulation and the upgrade, heating and cooling system type, fuel type and climate.
As energy costs continue to rise, it becomes more and more cost effective to use spray foam to insulate your home. Not only will your home be more comfortable an economical, but this is one upgrade that enhances the value of your property while keeping you and your family warm and toasty this winter.