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Energy tip #15: Insulate your home

insulation.gifWool you or won’t you? All puns aside, don’t be sheepish about insulation. With fall here and winter quickly approaching, some seasonal preparations could help turn your heat-hemorrhaging home into a model of efficiency and conservation. How? By giving your attic and walls a winter coat of fiberglass, mineral wool, recycled cotton, or even vegetable-based foam.

Insulation can come in many different forms and is in many cases regionally specific. Depending on where you live, your home will require insulation with a specific R-value. The higher the R-value, the greater the degree of insulation needed. Here in Northern California, for example, our Mediterranean climate requires an R-value of 49 for the ceiling and 21 for the walls. You can find a general guide for your region here.

Remarkably, 10-50% of a home’s energy losses come through improper insulation, particularly in the attic. A survey done a few years back showed that nearly 46 million homes in the U.S. are under-insulated. Needless to say, that’s a lot of heat loss.

Let’s take a look at the numbers…

Heating and cooling bill: $850
Cost of insulation: $800
Tax rebate: $80
10-50 % savings: $85-425
CO2 savings: 1,900-9,500 pounds

So, it seems that if a) roughly 30% of our nation’s energy requirements are for residential and commercial buildings and b) we’re losing 10-50% of our energy in 46 million homes, a national insulation campaign coupled with significant tax incentives could go a long way towards significant CO2 savings. Anyone willing to lead that charge?

Last week (Tip #14) 37 people gave a thumbs up to taking the dry cycle of their dishwasher out of the equation and drying their dishes passively or with a towel. At 100 lbs per vote, readers reduced their collective footprint by 3,700 lbs, or about the weight of a standard 4-door sedan.

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