6 Insulation Tips for the Toughest Winters

Midwest winters can be an unforgiving assault of snow, ice and bone-chilling temperatures. Summers in Iowa, Illinois and Wisconsin, meanwhile, offer sizzling, steaming temperatures as the blazing sun beats down. But one thing protects a home from both Midwest weather extremes: insulation.

“Insulating your home properly will help prevent mold, hot and cold spots and moisture issues,” says Doug Hunt, Insulation Manager with Spahn & Rose Dubuque.

The good news: It’s not too late to insulate your home and save on heating bills this winter. Bonus: Your home will be ready for the summer heat, too. Here are six tips to insulate for the toughest winters:

Conduct a home energy audit. A DIY home energy audit provides a checklist to locate air leaks, identify energy-efficiency upgrades and find areas that need additional insulation. However, the best way to make your home more energy-efficient is to work with a professional insulation expert, who will visit your home and identify ways to help you save money on energy costs. A Spahn & Rose insulation specialist can help you determine which type of insulation is best and provide expert installation. Get your insulation estimate today. During a typical week, the Spahn & Rose insulation team will work on about four houses, and the company’s insulation experts can help identify places in bonus rooms and attics that will benefit the most from insulation.

Select the right type of insulation. The three main types of insulation are fiberglass, spray foam and cellulose. They all have pluses and minuses. Fiberglass is easier to work with and cleaner. Cellulose is a recycled product that can be messier and produce dust when installed—but it settles tight, helping ensure that smaller nooks and crannies are covered. Spray foam has a very tight seal and is an excellent insulator, but it can be expensive compared to the other types. A Spahn & Rose insulation expert can help you determine which variety is best for your home, whether it’s a new build or an existing home. 

112321 SR SM Dec 21 blog InsulationCheck out corners. Especially in your attic, empty corners and shallow areas where blown insulation may not have fully settled may mean your home isn’t as energy efficient as possible. Inspecting these out-of-the-way corners might mean crawling around with a flashlight. If digging into these recesses sounds daunting, call Hunt or another Spahn & Rose insulation expert. “Insulation is something homeowners and contractors won’t see when a home is finished,” Hunt says. “But it’s vitally important—and it’s really rewarding knowing that I’ve helped homeowners make their homes better and more energy efficient.”

Stop-up sneaky air leakage points. Stealthy places that may allow air to pass through are your light fixtures, outlets and switches, in and around which small leaks and gaps can form. Unlike insulating an entire attic, this job is a quick, easy, do-it-yourself project. Use foam gaskets behind outlet plates and caulk and aerosol foam to seal crevasses. Be sure to turn off the power before any outlet or switch insulation work.

Inspect your home’s exterior for small gaps. Plug up spaces around exterior water taps with foam sealant. If mice might sneak in through these gaps, look for expanding foam that’s specifically designed to resist insects and rodents. Other areas likely to allow air to enter and escape your home are gaps around chimneys, and vents such as those near your dryer or shower. Also, look for dirty spots on your ceiling paint and carpet, which may indicate air leaks at wall or ceiling joints and wall or floor joists. The simple solution: caulk.

Seal rim joists. Look at a house from the outside as it’s being framed. A rim joist, also called a band joist, is the wood that butts up next to floor joists and wraps around the perimeter of the floor framing. However, uninsulated rim joists can lose a lot of energy. You can insulate them with a minimum of two-inch-thick extruded polystyrene, but some local building codes may call for even beefier insulation. After installing the insulation strips, fill any gaps with caulk or expanding spray foam.