Insulation is often overlooked when considering cutting your operating costs in a house. With the record cold weather in North America this week insulation should get a second look. When I grew up in New York insulation was expected in a house. Living in Georgia I realized good insulation was a matter of opinion.
The question of insulating a house in the south is a question of costs vs comfort. Is it worth the extra cost to insulate your house well when you can just put on warmer clothes for the limited cold spells experienced down south.
Using the 80/20 rule one may say the issue of heating in the cold can be more cost effective by spending minimal money on keeping your body warmer. The costs of warmer clothing is cheaper than re-insulating your house. Layering clothing is even cheaper because you use the clothes you have. Using more blankets at night keep you more comfortable and save you having to increase your heating bill. All this is nice but, added insulation is a more long term solution.
Isolating a room to heat with a space heater may be another option. A low cost heater may be the flower pot heater (like seen HERE from the tiny house listings) There are many plans of these candle powered heaters on the internet. A web site called Tactical Intelligence has a nice how to page HERE if you are interested in making one for yourself. These are also good to have as a backup just in case your normal heating doesn’t work.
There are many types of insulation available (as listed in this gov article ), but for this post I’m more interested in moving towards the solution of having a comfortable living space.
The installation of insulation is a investment with long term thinking. There will be some time to “payback” your initial money invested to get long term savings. Look at what type of installation will give you the most bang for your buck in your specific situation. If you are planning on moving in one year it may not be a good idea to insulate because of the added costs. However, it may be a added value to increase the value of your house for sale. Insulation also has a sister investment of looking at the heater you have and see if it needs to be replaced for a more efficient one.
Here are some steps to get the ball rolling:
Step 1- See where you are; find out how much money you are spending on space heating.
Step 2- Decide what your goal is. Choose the type of insulation you need and what is the cost of it installed. If a new heating system is needed; add this to your investment costs if it is needed. Figure out how long it will be to have the added savings pay for the installation. This is the minimum time you need to live there.
Step 3- Layer your clothing, add extra blankets at night and lower the temperature in your house a few degrees. The energy costs decreases when you turn the heat down but, there is less body heat loss and comfort is maintained. This will give you some savings which you can set aside and apply towards the insulation.
Step 4- Buy / make and use a space heater in the space you occupy the most. Lower the temperature in your house a few more degrees. This adds a little bit of costs by the one time buy of the heater and operating costs of the heater. The offset of heating a smaller space rather then a larger space should produce some more savings. (*If you use too many electric space heaters you could be increasing your energy bill.) The savings can be applied in your insulation fund.
(As a Step 5A you can choose to sell your space heater.)