While you may enjoy the cooler temperatures of your basement during the sweltering days of summer, during the winter your basement could be the culprit for your high energy bills. An insulated basement will not only save you money on your energy bills and keep the rest of your home warm, but it can also help prevent condensation, mold, keeping your basement dry, and odor free.

NOTE: Before you start to pick out which insulation is best for your home, make sure your basement has been waterproofed. Because basements are built belowground, they are vulnerable to moisture, leaks, and humidity. With a heavy rain or wet season, water can damage a basement that hasn’t been waterproofed.

Insulating walls vs. ceiling. During construction or renovation is the best time to have the exterior basement walls insulated. If the exterior basement walls were not insulated during construction, your best choice is to insulate the interior walls. Adding insulation to your ceiling can provide added comfort to your home, but studies have shown that you may not notice a huge difference in your energy bill. While you can add insulation to the ceiling, the interior or preferably exterior walls of the basement are the most important areas to insulate because they will provide the most warmth to your home and make the biggest impact on your energy bill.

The best insulation for basement walls. As noted earlier, a basement can easily turn into a wet, moldy nightmare, and because of this, it’s best to install insulation that provides both air leakage control and moisture control. Experts suggest using a closed-cell foam spray or foam board insulation. Spray is more expensive and can be messy to install, but the process is fairly quick. Foam boards are cheaper than spray foam, but the installation time is much longer. There is much debate over which material is best, but the ultimate choice lies in the hands of the homeowner. Research the choices, and pick an option that you think will work best for your budget and needs. Also, consulting a contractor who specializes in insulating basements will help you decide which option is most suitable for your home.

A quick word about R-value. When choosing insulation, it’s important to have a product with a high R-value, which is the measurement of a material’s resistance to heat flow. To find the right R-value for the insulation in your basement and other areas of your home, the Department of Energy provides R-value recommendations based on your home’s fuel type and location.

Without a properly insulated basement, you could be spending too much money on your energy bill and worse, allowing mold to take root in your basement. If you have a basement without insulation, take the time to research your options before the harsh winter temperatures set in and your energy bill rises. With the proper basement insulation, you can protect both your home and wallet.

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Sources: Green Building Advisor; This Old House; US Department of Energy.

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