Rural Survival


Home Insulation

One certain way to lower heating and cooling cost is to add more insulation to a home. I doubled my home insulation from a measly R11 to an acceptable R24 for the walls and it made a huge difference. The comfort level in the house was dramatically improved but I wish I had added more to R30. We burn wood as our primary heat source and more insulation means less wood cutting.

The easiest place to add insulation and the place where it makes the biggest difference is the attic or the ceiling.

I once lived in a house where there were no insulation in the floor, all the windows were single paned and barely 3 inches of insulation in the walls but the attic crawl space had close to three feet of blown in cellulose insulation and the house stayed surprisingly warm heated with a medium sized wood burning stove in below zero weather.

There is almost no such thing as too much insulation, more is better.

Glass has poor insulating values and the biggest heat loss and gain in a home is through windows. If the sizes of all the windows of an average home were added up it would represent an area the size of an exterior wall or close to it. Obviously sitting next to a wall comprised of single pane window glass would not be comfortable at zero degrees. Double paned window glass can double the insulating value of a single paned window and increase the level of comfort significantly by stabilizing the rate of heat exchange through them.

Putting up sheathing or covering around the crawl space of a home and insulating it is another good idea to improve heat retention by helping the warmth from the house from dissipating too quickly to the outside.

There are special plastic backed insulation 6" thick and 3 feet wide with a staple tab on one edge that comes in a continuous length to your specification for this purpose. I used it to insulate our crawl space to eliminate freezing pipe worries and doing so extended the length of time the house stays warm after we let the fire die.

Home insulation recommendations for locations around the country by zipcode. US Department of Energy website: Insulation Fact Sheet

GSHP or ground source heat pumps can significantly reduce the home electric or gas heating bill but again performance depends on how well the house is insulated to begin with.

A great discussion on Ground Source Heat Pumps at



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