What You Need to Know About Home Insulation

home insulation

image: matt furman

Home is where the hearth is, but not if it’s being cooled by winter’s frostier air. Ed Matos, VP of sales at Powersmith Home Energy Solutions, knows that proper insulation is not only the best way to keep a home heated, but also comfortable and homey year-round.

Related Content: Cozy Accessories You Need Now

What is the most important part of the home to properly insulate?
Most people have two-to-four inches of insulation in their attic. What Long Islanders need, in order to be energy efficient, is 15 inches of insulation. The simple physics that everyone understands is: heat rises. So the biggest priority is the attic.

What is a common misconception about heating and insulation?
If you have rooms that are too hot in the summer, especially the upstairs, generally it’s because you don’t have enough insulation in the attic and it’s not properly sealed. You’re getting a lot of heat gain from sun beating down from upstairs and not properly cooling. You want to do air sealing and insulation combined to get the home to the proper airflow. 99 percent of homes on Long Island are anywhere from two-to-five times leakier than they should be.

What’s an efficient, green solution to retrofit a home’s insulation?
Blown-in cellulose insulation is recycled newsprint that’s treated with a mineral called borate so it’s non-toxic and non-flammable. The best way to apply it is to [first] use an air sealing foam, creating an air boundary. Then you blow this in. It’s almost like a big down blanket in your attic. And you can pack it into the walls to retrofit them—it also packs down old insulation. Most homes we can do from the outside, it’s like we were never there. Generally you can retro fit a house in one-to-four days. We do work all-season long.

Any programs New Yorkers should take advantage of?
The free Home Performance with Energy Star assessment that’s provided by NYSERDA (New York State Energy Research and Development Authority), a $250 value that they pay us to perform. It’s also a health and safety assessment. [And] if you do want to get work done through the program, the state has an energy-efficiency loan. They’ll pay us upfront to do all the work. There’s a standard credit check like any loan, but every home is eligible for up to $25,000. You go through the state at a very low interest rate and you pay back a little over time up to 15 years.