Insulation seems like a good topic when pretty much half of the country is experiencing south pole-like bitter cold temperatures. Having adequate insulation throughout the house is one of the most cost-effective home improvements that you can do and also the best way to reduce energy bills around the year. Older homes generally have less insulation than homes built today, but even adding insulation to a newer home can pay for itself within a few years. Before adding insulation, you must first figure out the type of insulation you have. If the house is new, you can get this information from the builder and if you live in an old home, you may need to get it inspected to determine the type. Blanket type insulation, which can be purchased as batts or rolls are made out of fiberglass, mineral wool or plastic fibers. This type is commonly used in walls, floors, ceilings and frames of unfinished basements. The effectiveness of blanket insulation depends on several factors including the R-value (thermal performance of insulation), batt or roll thickness, gaps between batts as well as between batts and framing. Loosefill insulation is typically used in places where it is difficult to use other types of insulation such as attics, odd-shaped areas and in places that are hard to reach such as plumbing stacks. Loosefill insulation is made from cellulose, fiberglass or rock wool and as the name implies, the material looks like shredded rags and is applied by a blowing machine. As the insulation particles travel along the machine’s hose, millions of air pockets are created within the fibers which give the material its high insulating ability. Spray foam insulation is an alternative to traditional building insulation such as fiberglass. A two-component mixture composed of isocyanate and polyol resin comes together at the tip of a gun, and forms an expanding foam that is sprayed into wall cavities, or through holes drilled into a cavity of a finished wall. Foam insulation not only blocks all three forms of heat transfer – conductive, convective and radiant, but it also provides the added benefits of moisture control and noise reduction by acting as a sound barrier.