How To Check Wall Insulation (And Save Money)

We all know about the importance of attic insulation, but what about insulation in your walls?  If you are scratching your head wondering why your utility bill is so high, it may do with your walls.  It is easy to check your attic insulation, but how to check your wall insulation?

Today we take a look at wall insulation to help you reduce your electricity bill and keep your home at a comfortable temperature.

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Why Wall Insulation Is Important

The energy efficiency of your home is affected by heat transfer.  Heat transfer occurs when there is a difference in temperature between the inside and outside of your home.  Heat transfer will continue until the two temperatures are the same.  This is why you can run your air conditioning or heating system all day and never get to the desired temperature.  Insulation protects against heat transfer, so the inside of your home can be either hotter or cooler than the temperature outside.

Around 40% of your energy bill will be spent on heating or cooling your home.  So reducing heat transfer will save you significant money.  If you don’t have insulation in your walls, a lot of the money you spend on temperature control will float away.

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Types Of Wall Insulation

Homes fall into two categories, solid wall and cavity wall. 

Cavity wall homes are constructed with two walls with (you guessed it) a cavity or space between them.  Almost all modern homes are constructed this way.

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Solid wall homes tend to be older buildings that have just a single wall.  If you own a home built early last century, it is likely of solid wall construction.

Cavity walls are easy to insulate.  You need to fill the cavity with the insulating material.  Most jobs are done using mineral wool or polystyrene beads.  If your home is prone to extreme weather conditions, then polystyrene foam can be used.

Solid walls insulation is a bigger job.  Another insulating wall is erected either on the interior or exterior of the wall.  This involves constructing a wooden lattice being fixed to the current wall covered with a solid insulating wall.   

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How to Determine If Your Walls Are Insulated

If you own a solid wall home, it is easy to tell if your wall is insulated.  When the brick is exposed on the exterior, then you do not have exterior solid wall insulation.  If your internal walls are also brick or drywall directly on the brick, you have no internal insulation.

You can quickly check your cavity walls for insulation by removing the faceplate on one of your electrical outlets.  Ensure you turn off the power at the circuit breaker in your junction box.  When you look into the hole, you should be able to see any insulation that has been installed.

If you are still unsure, you should contact an expert to come to your home, look at your energy profile, and do a borescope inspection.

What is Borescope Inspection

A borescope is a device used to inspect hard to reach places, like the inside of your cavity wall.  The inspector will drill a small hole in the wall, insert the borescope camera, and look at the insulation.  This is usually paired with a thermal camera to identify any hot or cold spots on the wall.

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This type of inspection will give you the most accurate results.

What are the Costs and Savings of Solid Wall Insulation

Because solid wall insulation involves retrofitting a new layer of a wall, it is expensive and time-consuming.  

External insulation changes the look of your home and is usually done during a major home improvement project.  Adding new exterior wall cladding, painting, and other changes that will cost many thousands of dollars.  As this is major work, you will need to get planning permission from your local authority.

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The payback on such major work will be long if you only take into account energy saving.  But if you factor in an increase in resale value, the payback is much faster.

What are the Costs and Savings of Cavity Wall Insulation

The installation of new insulation in cavity wall homes is much easier and cheaper.

The installer will drill holes in your walls at regular intervals and use these holes to fill the space with insulation.  Once complete, the installer will fill the holes and paint the area. 

The cost of installation is between $1.75 and $3.00 per square foot.  The savings on your energy bill should be enough to pay this back within 5 years.

If your home was built in the last 30 years, you likely already have insulated walls. 

With the promise of a more comfortable temperature, energy savings, and the environmental impact, wall insulation makes a lot of sense.  It is worth taking some time, doing an energy audit, and checking your walls’ insulation.  You may save a lot of money.