How Can You Insulate Your Home For Less?

Can't afford insulation again this year? If you think about it, insulation is one of those home improvement projects that pays for itself over time. When air leaks in through what Energy Star calls your home's envelope -- the walls, windows and doors -- your utility bills go up. The money you put into things like spray insulation will reduce your monthly expenses. Consider some insulating jobs that will cost you less.

Insulate the Floor

USwitch reports that about 10 percent of heat is lost through the floor. The most practical way to insulate is to pull up the floorboards and install mineral wool or another type of insulation. As USwitch points out, that is not exactly an inexpensive project, however.

You can try less costly ways to keep the heat from escaping through the floor if your budget is tight.

  • Apply caulking to gaps in the floorboards and between the floor and the wall.
  • Install another layer under your carpet, such as polyfoam board. Do-It-Yourself states that polyfoam board insulation will help regulate airflow and temperature changes, and it is flexible enough to work under the carpet.
  • Put down a rug. This is a minor adjustment, but it will help reduce the draft and keep your feet warm.

Insulate around the Windows and Doors

The U.S. Department of Energy calls sealing the air leaks around the windows and doors easy and cost-effective ways to save money. There are two approaches:

  • Around movable components like windows -- apply weatherstripping.
  • Around stationary components like door frames -- apply caulking.

Look for products that can withstand both friction and temperature changes. Weatherstripping is location sensitive, so read the product instructions carefully. Felt is good for blocking out airflow in low-traffic areas, while vinyl is better for places susceptible to moisture like window condensation.

Insulate the Attic

If you have limited funds for insulation, then focus on the attic first. To cover just the floor,  use a blanket-type insulation that is easy to install and inexpensive. The National Association of Realtors explains it will cost about .50 cents a square foot if you put the insulation in yourself.

If you want to finish the attic and make it a living space, insulating the roof with spray insulation is a better choice. It molds to the rafters and has a high R-rating per inch. The R-rating is a value system applied to insulation to determines its ability to resist heat flow. Spray insulation comes in two forms.

  • Open cell spray insulation – The less expensive choice, the pricing depends on the supplier and product, but it averages between 0.35 - 0.55 cents per board foot, according to the Mullins Company. One board foot is 12 inches wide by 12 inches long by 1 inch thick.
  • Closed cell spray insulation – Closed cell is the more expensive form of spray insulation. It will cost between one to two dollars per board foot.

Insulate the Window Panes

Window insulation film is a simple yet effective way to make your home more energy efficient, explains Lowes. Insulating film can retain up to 55 percent of heat during the winter. It is self-adhesive and easy to apply. Once in place,the film cures to the window pane and becomes a transparent barrier that insulates the glass.

Even if your home improvement budget is thin this year, you can still take steps to seal the envelope and save money on your monthly energy bill. If you are not sure whether you need more insulation, ask the local utility company to come out and do an energy audit of your home.