How To : Home Efficiency

D-I-Y Insulation F.A.Q : Asking the Expert

As Canadian homeowners become more confident with undertaking home renovations, their desire to learn more about home improvement projects and products grows. Lorne Blatt, an insulation expert with Owens Corning Canada, helps educate homeowners about insulation by providing answers to frequently asked questions:

Q: What are the key places to consider upgrading insulation?

A: To achieve long-term energy savings, it makes the most sense to perform upgrades throughout your house. There are, however, a few key places to consider. Since up to 15 per cent of a home's energy is lost through the attic, it is a good place to start. Much like a toque, insulation minimizes the amount of heat that is escaping outside during the colder months. Typically, attics should be insulated to a value of R-40 to maximize energy efficiency. Once installed, homeowners should conduct yearly check-ups to ensure that the current recommended R-value is met.

Q: What is R-Value?

A: R-value indicates the insulation's resistance to heat flow. A key phrase to remember is the higher the R-value, the greater the insulating power. Check your local building code to determine the minimum R-Value in your region. More information on household insulation is available online at

Q: What tools and equipment will I need to install insulation?

A: As with any home improvement project, you'll need several different tools to perform the job. Basic tools include a tape measure, utility knife, straightedge or 2x4, lightweight stapler, hammer and appropriate fasteners to apply an interior finish. Depending on the project, you may also require special equipment such as a portable work light, boards or plywood sheets, insulation supports and a pole or rake to push insulation into out of the way places. Be sure to have work gloves, approved safety glasses and a disposable dust mask on-hand to protect yourself while working with insulation. You can find all of these items at your local home hardware store.

Q: How do I determine the amount of insulation I need to complete my project?

A: Fortunately, there's a simple formula to calculate the number of insulation packages you'll need to purchase. Multiply the walls length times the height to determine the total square footage to be installed. Next, measure the distance between joists to determine the correct insulation width. Then divide the total square footage to be insulated by the square footage per package and round up to the next whole number to determine the total number of packages required. When purchasing insulation, check the price per square foot rather than the price per bag. Some packages appear to contain more insulation when they actually contain less.

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