Insulation Inspections for Home Energy Ratings

January/February 2005
A version of this article appears in the January/February 2005 issue of Home Energy Magazine.
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January 01, 2005
Assessing insulation gaps, compression, and incomplete fill provides a way to measure installation effectiveness.
        Poorly installed insulation can significantly impair the thermal performance of building components.We’ve all seen thermography images of insulated surfaces that clearly show that the insulation is inadequate.We’ve all seen batts that are placed carelessly, loose-fill insulation that looks like the Rocky Mountains, or exterior rigid foam installed not just with gaps between the sheets,but barely even touching the rest of the wall. Quantitative research generally supports the idea that insulation must be installed carefully to maintain its rated performance, and energy codes require proper installation. A statement such as “All insulation materials… shall be installed in accordance with manufacturer’s instructions” is found in every published edition of the Model Energy Code (MEC) and the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC).         Manufacturer’s instructions aren’t always what you get in the field. Most installation instructions require fluffing insulation to the proper thickness, covering continuously, filling cavities completely, and fitting products around all obstructions, such as wiring, plumbing, and framing. However, insulation is difficult to install perfectly—and in most markets, with installers paid by ...

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