Is There Such a Thing as Too Much Insulation?
Moderation is a virtue, excess a vice. It’s a golden rule of life. But does it apply to your home insulation too?
Right off the bat, we want to tell you that “Is it possible to over-insulate my house?” probably isn’t the first question you need to ask.
As we’ll see below, most people in Colorado are nowhere close to over-insulating.
But maybe you’re one of those theoretical types who want to know what’s possible, even if it isn’t likely. How much is too much? And what happens if you go insulation overboard?
Too Much of a Good Thing
Look, this guy built his whole house out of foam, so we aren’t going to tell you that you can’t. To each his own.
But if your home is a little more conventional, you’re probably looking to find that sweet spot between “enough insulation to protect my home, reduce my energy bills, and keep me comfortable” on the one hand and “not spending my life savings on spray foam” on the other.
There comes a point where too much insulation starts to have a negative effect — financially, environmentally, and in terms of the longevity of your home.
So yes, it is possible to over-insulate your house. Fortunately, insulation fixation is a monkey not many people have on their backs.
The Point of Diminishing Returns
There’s no reason that Denver home insulation can’t be affordable. In fact, when done right, installing new insulation should save you money in the long run — significantly so.
Reasonable investments in insulation yield steady and appreciable returns.
Eventually, though, your house becomes so well insulated that adding additional material isn’t all that helpful. Any minimal insulating benefit you might gain is offset by the cost of installing it.
That’s because of how R-values work.
“R-value” is a rating system that tells you how well a layer of insulation reduces heat flow. The greater the R-value, the more effectively that piece of insulation will resist the conductive flow of heat. In other words, insulation with high R-value provides better thermal insulation.
So highly thermal insulation is very good for your home. But each time you add another layer of insulation, that latest layer is doing a lot less work for you because there isn’t as much heat flowing through it to begin with. The first few layers already did the heavy lifting, so the new layers can’t bring as much value to the table — no matter how high their R-value is.
Now, that doesn’t mean one layer is always enough. Our point isn’t that you shouldn’t add more insulation to your house. On the contrary, as we will see below, most of the houses in Colorado actually need more insulation. But only up to a certain point. Eventually, extra insulation becomes relatively superfluous and therefore a waste of money.
Properly insulating your house generally has a positive environmental impact. By making your home more energy efficient, you are able to reduce the amount of energy you consume each month, as well as the amount of energy you waste. That’s good for the environment as a whole.
But just as insulation costs money to produce and install, there’s also an environmental tradeoff that happens when it’s manufactured. Making insulation requires energy and, depending on the materials used, can involve the use of natural resources and/or the emission of greenhouse gases.
With reasonable amounts of home insulation, that tradeoff works in favor of the environment. There is a net reduction in energy usage. Even better, if you choose environmentally friendly materials, you can make your insulation extra environmentally friendly.
If you’re over-insulating, however, you’re consuming those materials without any real environmental offset.
Mold in the Middle
It is possible to over-insulate your house so much that it can’t breathe.
The whole point of home insulation is to tightly seal your home’s interior. But if it becomes too tightly sealed with too many layers of insulation, moisture can get trapped inside those layers. That’s when mold starts to grow.
Moreover, over-insulating your house means you’ll have a harder time achieving a consistent temperature throughout the home, and you’ll also be breathing in lower-quality air.
You Probably Don’t Have Too Much Insulation
The problem we’re describing in this article is largely theoretical in nature. Is it possible to over-insulate a house? Sure. Are you in jeopardy of that? Probably not.
On the contrary, most homes have too little insulation, not too much. Especially here in Colorado, where the climate is colder for much of the year and insulation really matters.
Here’s the thing: having too little insulation can cause all these same problems and more.
Without adequate insulation, you’re looking at higher energy costs, reduced home comfort, uneven temperatures, a negative environmental impact, mold growth, critter invasion, and a host of other issues.
There Is No One-Size-Fits-All Answer
Do you have enough insulation on your house right now? Too much? The right type? Are you wasting energy or spending too much on your monthly bill?
That analysis is going to look different for every house and every family. The best way to find out? Bring in an expert to look around and give you their opinion.
Schedule a Home Energy Audit in Denver or Fort Collins, CO
We encourage you to contact our office and schedule a home energy audit. We’ll send a certified building performance analyst to evaluate your home’s current energy and insulation situation.
REenergizeCO is a Colorado-based home energy efficiency company that helps homeowners increase their comfort, decrease their energy bills, and prolong the life of their home.
We’ve conducted countless Colorado home energy audits. The process is quick and easy, and it can tell you a lot about your home’s ongoing energy expenditure — all with a view toward increasing your quality of life and decreasing your monthly expenses.