Proper Basement Insulation is Important for Energy Efficiency

How to Insulate Your Basement for Fall and Winter

Improve the energy efficiency of the coldest spot in your home

For many people, the basement is a family room, a movie room, a generic storage space, or even a workroom or office to pursue interests and hobbies. But in the winter, an uninsulated basement earns another title: the coldest space in the house.

If you want to use your basement all year long, insulating the space will do more than simply make it more enjoyable. Proper insulation will also reduce your energy expenses and can cut as much as 30 percent of your home's heat loss.

Before taking on a basement insulation installation project, the first step is to determine the installation can be done yourself or if it will require a professional. For the latter, check with the Insulation Contractors Association of America for assistance, information, and a professional near you. If this is going to be a do-it-yourself (DIY) project, you'll need to follow these steps.

Determine the Insulation Plan

Basements can actually be insulated in three different ways: from the outside, the foundation's middle, or the inside. Inside-insulation installation is by far the most common, as exterior and middle installations require extensive foundation work and are generally reserved for new home construction (or serious professional installation).

Your DIY interior insulation installation, the next step is to determine the required thermal resistance (R-Value). Most homes in the United States require an R-Value of R-5 to R-10. The higher the R-Value, the more effective the insulation. This means homeowners residing in colder climates should consider higher R-Value options. The U.S. Department of Energy's Insulation Calculator can help homeowners determine the proper R-Value for their home.

Get Those Tools

Once the proper R-Value has been determined, collect tools necessary for the installation project, including any or all of the following:

  • Dust mask
  • Extension cord
  • Safety glasses
  • Stapler and three-eighths or half-inch staples
  • Tape measure
  • Work light
  • Stepladder
  • Utility knife

Let the Installation Begin

Once you've gathered up all your tools, you should begin by measuring the desired space where the insulation will be installed. With this information, you can purchase the actual insulation meeting these measurements, ensuring money is not wasted on unnecessary additional insulation. This is also the time to purchase the wood necessary for the furring strips that will form the project's foundation.

After all materials have been purchased, the homeowner should start by installing the furring. These narrow stripes of wood make a true plane when attached to a wall. The strips should generally measure 1" x 2" or 1" x 3" and can be connected to the wall by screws or nails.

Once the furring has been erected, the insulation must be cut to match the measured distance between the strips. Next, the insulation should be applied to the open area by stapling it to the furring strips every four inches. After the seams have been taped, as well as any spots where the insulation has been torn, the basement insulation installation will be complete.

Still not comfortable installing the insulation in your basement yourself? That's OK! Check out the Insulation Contractors Association of America to locate a professional in your area. The money you spend installing insulation in your basement will pay for itself sooner than you think as you reduce energy expenses during the winter months.

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