Every now and again, especially when temperatures get extreme during summer and winter, you might notice that your energy bill skyrockets. When this happens, homeowners think to limit the usage of their electrical appliances. While this does help to reduce the energy consumption in a home, there is a much better method.
The condition of your crawl space has a profound effect on the amount of energy used in a home, especially in Indianapolis, IN. You would need to put into place serious modifications of your crawl space to fix the issue. If you take a moment to examine the space under your house, you can learn a lot about it and how it affects the rest of your home.
What to Look for When You Have High Energy Bills
Turning off the lights when you leave the room, disconnecting appliances, turning off the AC and HVAC, and using timers are all great ways to reduce energy consumption. Despite making these changes, you might still find that your energy bill is a lot higher than it should be.
This is because there is an invisible problem that’s making your appliances work harder than they should and expending more energy. It all has to do with whether or not your crawl space (and your house in general) is insulated.
- Poor Insulation Leads to Higher Energy Bills
Insulation is the material that fills the gaps in a space to reduce heat loss and heat gain. In a building, insulation materials are within the walls of the structure. It’s because of insulation that one room in the house is able to maintain a certain temperature even if the room next to it is significantly cooler or warmer. If this isn’t the case in your home, it means your walls aren’t properly insulated.
When it comes to crawl spaces, they are typically either poorly insulated or lack any kind of insulation at all. This is because insulation materials help a room maintain a certain temperature, which is useful for the people actually using a room. Most people never spend time in their crawl spaces, so there is no need for thermal control in those spaces. Or, at least that is what has been believed for decades.
Due to the stack effect, air from your crawl space is what causing your high energy bills. Here’s how it works:
Heat will always try to find a way to rise. This is because nature will always try to find an equilibrium, even thermally. Hot air and cold air need to meet so that a balanced temperature can be created. Hot air is the one to move to meet the cold air is it’s lighter than cold air.
During the summer, the hot air from outside flows into your uninsulated crawl space. Since the warm air is light and there’s no insulation discouraging it from moving around, the warm air rises into your home. If it’s summer, you likely turned the AC on. However, because hot air is constantly flowing into your home from the outside, your AC has trouble keeping the house cold. You probably have to set the AC at a really low temperature and have it running for longer than it should in order to ward off the heat.
In the winter, the opposite happens. The air in your home is hotter than the air outside, so a poorly insulated house loses heat very quickly as the air travels outside. You would probably have to turn the heater on for longer than necessary because the thermal control is so poor. All of this leads to an increased energy bill.
To avoid high energy bills, you need to contact basement and foundation experts to insulate the area under your house. A crawl space is usually neglected by homeowners, and the consequences of this are felt with your wallet. More than half the homes in the country have a poorly insulated crawl space, resulting in high energy consumption and higher bill prices.
Is Your Crawl Space Raising Your Energy Bills?
Because homeowners usually disregard their crawl spaces, many might be hesitant to alter this part of their house. If you’re not fully convinced about the insulation in your crawl space or in your house in general, there are many problem signs to look out for that contribute to your high energy bill. Once you get an understanding as to how much poor insulation affects your day-to-day, you won’t hesitate to call professionals. Here’s what you need to look out for:
If your crawl space isn’t insulated, it probably means it isn’t waterproof either. Crawl spaces and basements are usually the dampest parts of a house. Because of this, whatever humidity is in your crawl space will transfer over to the rest of your house. Not only is hot air lighter than cold air, moist air is less dense than dry air, so humidity can very easily rise to your living space.
When dealing with a humid house, many homeowners will attempt to air out or get rid of the dampness by using appliances. Turning on the AC, a dehumidifier, or a ventilation fan are all ways homeowners traditionally get rid of humidity. However, when dealing with a humid crawl space, these methods are rather futile.
As long as the crawl space remains uninsulated and ventilated, the humidity will persist. Homeowners will turn on these appliances for long periods of time throughout the day for weeks and even months in the hopes it will help with their humidity. However, all they do is consume energy and raise energy bills.
- Rapid Changing Temperatures
Indiana is known for its rapidly changing temperatures. In the span of just two days, the weather can go from snowy to blazing hot. If your home is well insulated, these temperatures shouldn’t affect you too badly. If the temperature in your home fluctuates with the changing of the climate outdoors, it means it’s poorly insulated.
This poses a problem for your AC and HVAC. A lack of thermal control puts a strain on these appliances. If the room is already warm, your AC works harder to cool down the room, thus consuming more energy. Likewise, your HVAC will struggle to warm up a cold room. By having more control over your home’s temperature, you allow the appliances to work more efficiently and save energy.
- Poorly Functioning AC/HVAC
Do you feel as if your AC or HVAC simply isn’t working properly? Despite having them on, summers are still hot and winters are still cold in your home. If you’ve hired someone to take a look and everything is functioning just fine, it could be an insulation problem.
As mentioned previously, the stack effect makes it so that hot air either flows into your home or leaves it. This results in you running your AC and HVAC a lot more than you need to. The appliances need to work a lot harder and thus consume more energy because of the poor thermal control in your home. Once you encapsulate and insulate your crawl space, you’ll notice that your AC and HVAC are a lot more efficient than they were before.
- Structural Issues
Regardless of when your insulation was put into place, visible holes or cracks around your home indicate an insulation problem. Any space in which warm air can enter and exit needs to be covered up. This isn’t only limited to walls; misplaced floorboards, broken windows, bent door frames, and other structural issues contribute to poor insulation.
An open, uncovered crawl space is another problem. Crawl spaces should be covered up and sealed to not only avoid thermal control problems, but also to avoid problems with humidity, mold, structural deterioration, and settling.
What Does a Problematic Crawl Space Look Like?
A crawl space that is raising your energy bills is a crawl space with a lot of issues. There are multiple signs that indicate that you have a problematic crawl space. Though many of these problems are unnoticeable at the start, they will leave a profound impact on your health and the structural integrity of your home if left unchecked. If you do a quick inspection and see any of these problem signs, contact a foundation repair company to waterproof your crawl space:
- Wood rot and spores
- Wet insulation
- Pest infestation
- Cracked walls
Why You Should Not Insulate a Crawl Space Yourself
As a homeowner, it’s tempting to try to cut costs and check out any DIY methods to insulate your crawl space. By insulating the space yourself, you are actually losing more money in the long run.
There are many insulation materials used today, and the most common one by far is fiberglass insulation. It’s common because it’s easy to install and a lot cheaper than other insulation options. Many homeowners with DIY insulation projects go for this material. However, fiberglass and other insulation materials recommended in DIY guides should not be used, especially if you live in Indiana.
Fiberglass and other cheap, easy to install materials are not good enough to properly insulate your home. Because of how cold it gets in Indiana, any insulation with an R-value under 5 will not be enough to retain the heat in your crawlspace. R-value is a rating of how well the material can trap heat and control airflow. If you install these low-cost materials, you’ll still end up paying for it with your high energy bills.
Another reason you should contact a professional for insulation installation is because of the health risks. Materials such as fiberglass release certain particles in the air that are extremely harmful. During installation, you will expose yourself and the other members of your household to dangerous substances.
High Energy Bills
Now that you understand what to look for in terms of poor insulation, you’ll probably want to know what can be done about it. Improving the insulation in your home isn’t something you should put off for too long. The exorbitant high energy bills should be enough of an incentive, but if it isn’t, think of all the humid air you’re letting in by having poor thermal control. Figuring out how to insulate your home will be the least of your worries when dealing with mold.
The first thing you need to do to fix your energy consumption problems would be to insulate your home. The first step would be to fix any structural issues in every part of the house, including your crawl space. Every hole should be patched and broken frames need to be set right or replaced. It’s no use insulating a home if there are gaps.
It’s not advised that you try to install insulation yourself. The best materials are usually only available to professionals, and if you want the job to be done right, you’ll need expert installation. The best insulation materials are also the ones that work best. In places like Indiana, where the climate is inconsistent and the winters are very cold, you’ll want the best insulation materials you can get.
- Crawl Space
To solve your energy consumption issues, you’ll need to both close off and insulate your crawl space. Just because you close off the space doesn’t mean that there’s thermal control. Sure, crawl space encapsulation reduces the amount of air moving around, but the materials used for encapsulation don’t always control the air flow.
Encapsulating and insulating a crawl space will improve the energy efficiency drastically in your home. Despite how neglected crawl spaces usually are, they are an integral part of a building. Because of this, you should also consider hiring a professional to deal with your crawl space. There are many pipes and electrical wires running across a crawl space, so attempting to work down there when you have no experience will not only guarantee your insulation job isn’t as good, it could also be detrimental to the rest of your house.
When thinking of insulation, many think of the pink, foamy substance between the walls of their house. While the pink insulation foam is a common insulation material, it is not the only one used. There are many different types of insulation materials you can choose from, and the best one for your home depends on where you live and what you need.
You’ll want to get a material that has the highest R-value possible. R-value indicates how good the material is at trapping heat and controlling airflow. Places with extremely cold winters need insulation with a higher R-value than warmer places.
Once you understand and research the different types of insulation materials, you can choose which one you think best suits your needs. However, once you talk to a professional, you might need to go with a different material than the one you chose depending on their conclusion after inspection.
- Fiberglass and Cellulose
Fiberglass and cellulose are the two most common insulation materials used, especially fiberglass. Fiberglass is made of tiny glass particles while cellulose is made of plant fiber. Both have an average R-value of 3, so they’re not very good for insulation if you live in Indiana. You’ll need a material with a higher R-value if you want to get your money’s worth.
Fiberglass and Cellulose are also terrible insulation materials for crawl spaces. Crawl spaces are usually the most humid parts of a house, and these materials don’t do well with water. Fiberglass absorbs and retains moisture, encouraging mold growth in the crawl space.
- Other Materials
There are many other materials out there used for insulation, such as polyurethane foam and polystyrene. While these materials are a lot better than fiberglass and cellulose, they are still ranked fairly low in terms of R-value. They are mostly used for warmer climates, so any contractor working with a material that isn’t suited for cold weather should be disregarded.
A material like the AquaStop ExTremeBloc™ crawl space insulation is ideal if you live in a colder climate. Unlike other materials, it doesn’t lose its efficiency and it’s extremely easy to clean. Due to its firmness, it blocks pests, so not only will you save on your energy bills when insulating, you’ll also be paying less annually for pest control.
If you struggle with inconsistent price spikes on your monthly energy bill, you might be wondering if it’s related to the insulation in your home. Even if your energy bill isn’t consistently high, that doesn’t mean your home is well insulated. There are many reasons as to why your energy bill is rising and falling every month. Once you’ve done all the basics in terms of disconnecting appliances in your home, changing light bulbs, and lowering the light usage, you need to check the following:
- Fluctuating Temperatures
When the climate isn’t stable, a poorly insulated house will have trouble keeping the indoor temperature consistent. In the Midwest, the temperature is inconsistent pretty much year-round, but the most extreme weather changes occur between December and April.
If you don’t have an insulated crawl space, the best thing you can do to guard against fluctuating climates is to try to keep the temperature as stable as possible. Instead of turning on the AC or HVAC, change the clothing you wear around the house and try different things to control your body temperature.
- Long Periods of Rain
July comes with long periods of rain in Indiana. This means that the humidity levels in your area are through the roof. Humid air is less dense than dry air, so along with the summer heat, this is the kind of air that’s moving through your home.
The rain typically encourages people to stay indoors a lot more, so this could also affect how long your appliances stay on each month. And, of course, just as quickly as the rains come, the rains also go. The change in humidity in the air affects the air flow around your home, which in turn, affects your energy consumption.
Call Indiana Foundation Service for Crawl Space Services
Understanding how your home works not only helps you prevent problems, it also helps you save money. The fact of the matter is, your un-insulated crawl space is the cause of your high energy bills, so you’ll want to get that straightened out as soon as possible.
At Indiana Foundation Service, we’ve been repairing and modifying crawl spaces since 1993. With our superior products and world-class expertise, your insulation problems will be a thing of the past. Our patented insulation panel, AquaStop ExTremeBloc™, has an R-value of 11 and is the best kind of insulation you can get for your crawl space. We are proud to serve Indianapolis, IN, so don’t hesitate to contact us if you’re a homeowner in our service area. Call us or use our online contact form on our website to set up a free inspection. Our field expert will give you a run-down of options and costs the very same day. We can’t wait to hear from you!