July 9, 2007: Insulating Homes to DOE Guidelines Could Save Millions of Barrels of Oil Annually
"Approximately 60 million homes in the U.S. are estimated to be under-insulated," said Gale Tedhams, director of sustainability for Owens Corning. "By heading straight to the attic and adding insulation, homeowners can make their homes greener, save money, and conserve the energy equivalent of 103 million barrels of oil annually - enough to fill 51 supertankers."
In addition to helping homeowners save oil and reduce their cooling and heating costs, insulation plays another key role. According to a recent study by the McKinsey Global Institute, insulation is the single most cost-effective way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
"Many Americans assume that transportation and industry are the largest consumers of energy in the U.S., but it's actually buildings," said Wendy Burt from the U.S. Department of Energy. "The electricity consumed by one single home puts more carbon dioxide into the air than two average cars. The good news is there are simple energy-efficient upgrades we can make, such as adding insulation in the attic and caulking windows and doors that reduce our energy footprint and save us money."
Owens Corning recommends that an attic have between 16 and 22 inches of insulation with a minimum total R-value of 49. To learn more about R-value and reducing home energy consumption go to the Owens Corning energy efficiency microsite at www.owenscorning.com/foryourhome/index.asp.
"Energy efficiency is truly the 'first fuel,'" said Tedhams. "A barrel saved is two barrels earned, which means that efficient energy is the cheapest energy anyone can buy."
Owens Corning also notes that homeowners who want to reduce their home's energy footprint should consider other energy-efficient upgrades such as:
Installing a programmable thermostat - Why cool the house when nobody's home? A programmable thermostat can automatically lower or raise a home's air temperature during the day. By regulating the temperature, homeowners can save up to 10 percent on annual heating and cooling costs.
Closing the shades - Keep windows covered with shades and blinds during the day to prevent the sun's rays from heating the interior of the home. In particular, cover windows facing the south and west where the sun shines the strongest and brightest.
Plugging the drafts - Sealing the envelope of the home is the first line of defense against drafts, so it's important to caulk and weatherstrip around all seams, cracks, and openings. Pay special attention to windows and near electrical boxes. Unwanted air leakage alone can raise energy bills by up to 10 percent.
Turning on the fan - Simply turning on the fan can make its inhabitants feel several degrees cooler because it circulates the air, essentially creating a "wind chill" effect. Plus, fans use less energy than air conditioning units.
Taking a home energy audit - Understanding how much energy a home uses helps homeowners determine what changes will save them the most energy and money. Owens Corning’s Home Report Card® quiz provides tailored recommendations on improving home energy efficiency and can be found at www.owenscorning.com/homereportcard.
Publication date: 07/09/2007