Published on October 1st, 2015 | by Dawn Killough1
90% of US Homes Are Under Insulated, Study Says
Boosting Insulation Could Cut Energy Costs, Reduce CO2 Emissions and Increase Comfort
Based on new research, the North American Insulation Manufacturers Association (NAIMA) estimates that roughly 90 percent of existing US single family homes are under insulated, wasting energy and money, and decreasing comfort for homeowners.
“If all U.S. homes were fitted with insulation based on the 2012 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC), residential electricity use nationwide would drop by about 5 percent and natural gas use by more than 10 percent,” said Dr. Jonathan Levy, Professor of Environmental Health at Boston University School of Public Health and lead researcher on the Boston University team that investigated the subject.
This estimate is derived from information in the 2009 Residential Energy Consumption Survey, using methods to estimate insulation levels developed by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and applied by Boston University researchers as part of a study supported by NAIMA into the energy savings and emissions reductions possible with increased insulation levels in US homes.
The study focuses on how increased insulation across the US housing sector can decrease energy use, as well as cut carbon dioxide and other pollutants. It will also provides estimates of the resulting public health benefits. These estimates will be developed and provided through a forthcoming series of peer-reviewed articles.
Curt Rich, President and CEO of NAIMA, emphasized the importance of these findings at this time of year. “The fall is when many homeowners around the country begin thinking about home improvements to increase comfort and reduce their energy bills as temperatures drop come winter. Research like this should reinforce our message to homeowners, and to policymakers, that added insulation has real and significant benefits.”
It is clear policy makers are taking notice, as 2015 marks the second year the Energy Star program has run its “Rule Your Attic!” campaign. This national marketing and education effort serves to raise consumer awareness of the comfort and efficiency benefits of insulation and offers tools for both diagnosing your home’s additional insulation needs and guidance on how to do the work yourself. This year’s campaign runs from Oct. 1 – Nov. 20.
Rich notes that this campaign is targeting the top barrier in the market: people just aren’t aware that their home likely has far less insulation than a home built to modern standards: “People don’t see insulation, so they don’t think about it. They see windows and doors so they think about those items.”
“The reality is that insulation has a three times greater impact on the average home’s energy and comfort than windows or doors do. This campaign encourages people to poke their heads in the attic and assess where they stand. It takes just a few minutes and can result in big improvements, both in terms of your family’s comfort and reduction in your monthly energy bills.”
The NAIMA website has resources for homeowners interested in doing insulation work themselves, including detailed pictorial guidance and videos of proper installation.