Finding leaks where much of the heat is dissipated is the first thing you should do. But definitely, you should consider the effects of lack of insulation on your heating bills. The worst culprit in a home is the attic. Keep in mind that insulation materials are relatively inexpensive and are a worthwhile investment. First because a modest investment can have dramatic results. Another thing to consider is that reduction in energy use has an effect on air pollution.
There are several types of insulation and what you use depends on where you have to put it. There’s fiberglass that comes in rolls or sheets of varything thickness. Cellulose has to be blown in. And finally, there are several types of foam. Fiberglass is rated with an R number. When you’re ready to go ahead, your supplier can tell you what rating you need. It’s likely to be different for a floor, wall or ceiling.
If your house is old, likely it is not insulated enough and you’re energy bills are likely to be high. If so, begin in the attic. That’s where you are likely to be emptying your wallet. If you don’t use your attic for storage, things get easier. The best is to lay fiberglass on the attic floor with the vapor barrier (which is on one side of the fiberglass sheet) toward the living area. A thickness of about twelve inches should probably be used. This gives you double duty because not only does the fiberglass insulate but you also get an air area which is effectively a second insulation. If you have to insulate the attic ceiling which is the roof, you need to install spacers to keep the fiberglass from contact with the roof.
The skill set required for fiberglass insulation is minimal . You have to be able to measure and cut. So you will need a tape measure and sharp blade . For safety reasond, in addition, you should have a mask to protect against inhaling fiberglass particles, safety glasses and gloves.
Insulating walls requires blowing in a foam which is another task entirely and needs different equipment. You can usually rent blowing equipment. Esssentially you have to drill a hole, usually in the outside siding big enough for the tube to fit. You also have to be aware that vertical beams separate sections of the wall so a hole has to be drilled for each section to blow in the insulation. After you finish, plug up the holes.
Insulating your basement has two results. First of all, it makes the basement livable for whatever use you want to put it to – storage, ping-pong, playroom etc. Secondly, an insulated basement helps keep the rest of the house warm. Before insulating the walls you should insulate the spaces between the joists in the ceiling with fiberglass. Insulating the walls requires installing a vapor barrier by taping it to the wall and then putting furring strips horizontally and vertically over the barrier to hold the insulation. The details on installing the basement wall insulation is for another time.