Insulation often overlooked by energy-conscious homeowners

Effective heating and insulation are integral to energy-efficient homes run by environmentally conscious homeowners, even if they are often overlooked in favor of green appliances, windows and other recent industry developments.

The majority of energy costs go toward moderating a home's temperature, so if insulation becomes compromised, utility bills could spike. Energy-efficient insulation may not be difficult to come by, as homeowners have several options when it comes to keeping their homes insulated.

The two most common types of insulation are fiberglass batt and blown-in cellulose. Homeowners should be aware that insulation is assessed by how well it slows down heat transfer. High levels of this measure – the resistance ("R") value – should be sought out by homeowners.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, air most often leaks out of a home through the attic and near where the roof's eaves meet the walls of the home's uppermost story. Air enters the home through windows, doors, dryer vents, outdoor faucets and where stories abut.

Ideally, insulation options should be considered from the moment a builder starts construction on a home, but these materials can be repaired and replaced if necessary, especially if they are in an accessible location such as an attic.

"Insulation is part of a building system that includes the framing and the windows," architect and Washington Post author Katherine Salant said. "To get the best performance you need to take these all into account."

A home inspection professional in the Maryland area will know the type of insulation that will most benefit a particular homeowner and be able to assess whether the materials currently installed in a particular home are effectively doing their job.