Do you find yourself shivering in your home, or sweating? Are the costs of your heating and cooling bills rising? Does adjusting the thermostat make virtually no difference? If this scenario sounds familiar, then your house may be under-insulated. This common problem plagues many homeowners. It’s an issue that gets expensive, fast; the sooner you take action, the better. Warm and cool air leaking from your home means that you’re paying more for less-efficient results. It can be confusing to understand how insulation works, but it will ensure that your home is properly protected against the elements – and the rising numbers on your utility bill. To save you from this costly issue, we’ve compiled the most common signs that your home is under-insulated:
1. Insects and mice. Are you noticing unwelcome guests in your home? Pests can enter through holes in your foundation and insulation; if you see a lot of them, they may be traveling through gaps in the material. If rodents can make their way inside, then hot air can make its way outside. Prevent critters from moving in by sealing any cracks with additional insulation.
2. Drafts. Wind belongs outdoors, not inside your home. Cold drafts point to insulation problems. To locate the source of a draft, check around the windows, doors, and electrical outlets. Adding more insulation will save you from shivering inside your own home. If cold air is moving around your home during the winter, it means that warm air is leaving it.
3. High energy bills. Homes that leak heat make your furnace work harder. This energy hike will be reflected in your upcoming utility bill. Compare how your bill has changed over the years to see if there’s been an increase. Your HVAC system will overcompensate to make up for the air leak, costing you more money for worse performance. When your consumption remains the same, but your bills keep rising, it’s probably poor insulation that is to blame. Replacing insulation comes at a price, but think of your future savings on energy bills. If you live in a deregulated energy state, switching electricity suppliers may be the easiest way to lower your electric bill
4. Mold growth. Insulation acts as a barrier for moisture; if there isn’t enough of it, water will seep inside your home. This can cause more problems than you might think. Mold can lead to respiratory issues, coughs and phlegm, and shortness of breath. Be on the lookout for splotches on the wall or a foundation that are black, gray, or green. If you notice mold in your home, act quickly before these symptoms worsen.
5. Eaves troughs with icicles. Look at the outside of your home – is there an ice dam on your roof? It can be intimidating to see spears of ice hanging from your gutters. This happens when hot air escapes through your attic and melts the snow on your roof. As the water travels down, it refreezes once it meets the cold air, which forms icicle dams. A good way to check this is to watch your roof after a snowstorm. If the snow melts away within a few hours, then your roof is leaking hot air.
6. Cold walls. By performing a touch test, you can assess how well-insulated your walls, floors, and ceilings are. A damp or cold wall demonstrates that heat is being lost through thin insulation – it should feel dry and warm. The same is true for hot walls in the summer. It indicates that the temperature outside is passing through the insulation and straight into your home. Walls without enough insulation have no barrier between them and the outside elements.
7. Inconsistent temperatures. Do you notice hot and cold spots throughout your house? Temperatures that change from one room to another are an indication that your house lacks sufficient insulation. When some rooms are freezing yet others are sweltering, it points to under-insulated walls as the root of the problem. Uneven temperatures, especially in rooms with doors or windows, show that the heat is rising and escaping from your home.
8. Frozen pipes. Are you worried about whether your plumbing can withstand the winter? The only thing that can protect your pipes from extreme temperatures is insulation. If your pipes freeze frequently, you’ll end up paying for the inevitable repair of a burst pipe. This can cost thousands of dollars in damage – it’s much less expensive to invest in more insulation. Shield the pipes in your attic or basement with suitable insulation to avoid a hefty repair bill.
9. Moisture in the attic. Poor insulation lets hot air out, and lets other things in, like water. Puddles in your attic are a sign that your insulation needs a replacement. It’ll be less expensive than dealing with the water damage caused by leaks. You can also check the windows and door frames for moisture. If you touch your insulation and find that it’s damp, chances are the reason for your indoor puddles are under-insulated walls.