Insulation – the unsung hero of energy efficiency. Yes, you probably need more of it!

From the Desk of the Executive Director

I spent part of my Memorial Day weekend installing insulation under a mobile home trailer. Even though 90% of LEAP’s work is implementing energy-efficiency measures like installing insulation, and I think about it a lot, I don’t usually spend my free time installing it. Have you ever installed insulation yourself?

As I lay on my back under the trailer, in the dirt with various things falling on top of me while fitting the insulation between the joists, I was reminded as to why most households don’t prioritize insulation: it’s dirty (especially under a mobile home in most cases) and uncomfortable (heat in an attic, cold when exposed in the winter) work. It also sits unseen most of the year in your attic or crawlspace/basements. However, second to changing lightbulbs to LEDs, it offers the most energy-saving “bang for the buck,” because of the energy utilized for home heating and cooling – the largest energy-consuming activity in most homes. 

If your home is more than 20 years old or so,  (when the building code was changed to increase minimum insulation levels to the current R38) you likely need more of it. Air sealing in the attic is added before additional insulation and is another important component that is normally done when adding insulation. Both air sealing and adding insulation will make your home more comfortable and feel less drafty.

Your utility companies (both gas and electric) are likely to offer insulation rebates. In Charlottesville, for example, both the main electric utility and gas provider are offering rebates of up to hundreds of dollars for adding insulation, and it can be free for residents who qualify based on age and income. The return on investment – how long it takes to recuperate the initial cost through savings on your energy bill – for additional insulation goes from 6-7 years to 2-3 years, or less, with the rebates, making it a smart investment. While new windows are often thought of as huge energy savers, their return on investment normally takes significantly longer than insulation.

As you likely suspected, LEAP can help you understand if you need more insulation, find trusted contractors to do the necessary work, and access all of the available rebates. That is what we do 🙂

In the meantime, I look forward to hearing from the mobile home resident I assisted last weekend about the change in their energy bill and the comfort of their home. I also challenge you to take a look at your insulation and even consider installing some yourself. It will give you a great story to share while you see your energy bill reduced.

Chris Meyer, Executive Director of LEAP

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