Heating a home is predicted to cost about 50% more this winter. Homeowners realize that and are looking for ways to have their home heating be more efficient.
Insulation might be the right answer. The forward-thinking HVAC contractors are getting into that space. The ACHR NEWS sat down with David Richardson, curriculum developer and trainer and National Comfort Institute, to do a deep dive into insulation and the HVAC contractor.
ACHR NEWS: As we enter heating season, insulation becomes an important topic. My first question is do enough contractors do enough of that work?
RICHARDSON: Unfortunately, a lot of guys tend to look past it. They assume, based off a certain houses age, that the insulation is there. And when it is there we assume that it magically does what it is supposed to. We overlook it and get tunnel vision on what we do which is making sure the equipment is doing what it is supposed to be doing. And we forget that the building that we are conditioning has to contain all that heat. However, there are a lot of good, progressive contractors that really understand how it works and why it is important. And, of course, how to look it over and make sure the insulation is doing what it should be doing.
ACHR NEWS: Is there a timeline on when insulation should go (10, 20, or 30 years) or is it just a case-by-case basis?
RICHARDSON: A lot of it is like HVAC equipment. It depends if it has been done correctly to begin with. So if the insulation installation is done right to begin with, while you will have some compaction over time, hopefully nobody has been messing with it. The key with the insulation is to make sure there is no air moving through it. Think of it kind of like a sweater. You are standing outside with no wind and a sweater would keep you nice and warm. But as soon as there is a breeze you are going to get cold. So when you look at the original insulation you have to make sure it meets some basic guidelines that are assumed. And one is that there is no air movement going through it.
One key point of interest is if you are dealing with something like a bonus room. A lot of times the insulation is exposed to the backside of that attic space. That has to be sealed off. For HVAC professionals, that is a great opportunity to attempt to reduce the load of the buildings and take care of some of those pesky comfort issues that often plague your customer. Insulation, if it is installed by the book, is going to be a pretty good bet.
ACHR NEWS: If contractors want to get involved in this, where can they get up to speed?
RICHARDSON: There are some good resources out there. A great place to start is the Department of Energy’s website. They do have some guides out there under Energy Star about how insulation should be installed.
ACHR NEWS: Is over insulation a thing? Could it be a problem?
RICHARDSON: That is not usually a problem. It is the under insulation that is a problem or the air that leaks through it. That is where you get into the problems. There are guidelines on how much insulation you should have depending on what part of the country you are at.
Also, keep in mind, it has to be insulated on all four sides of the building. Insulation needs to be in the floors, walls, and ceilings. You are trying to contain the heat a furnace of heat pump is putting into the house. If there is a defect in that, the contractor is going to get blamed. That’s just how it works. No homeowner will ever call saying they have a comfort issue and it is a problem with the insulation guy.