A picture of an attic with insulation on the floor of it, and a money sign in the middle.

Discovering that your home is uninsulated or insufficiently insulated creates a conundrum. Do you continue living as you have or should you put forth the money needed to get your home properly insulated? How much does insulation even save you in both money and energy?

The EPA states that insulation can lead to savings of 15 percent on your cooling and heating and 11 percent on your total energy costs. Some estimations, although not by the EPA, are even higher at around 20 percent.

If you’re still not totally convinced that your home needs insulation, that’s okay. You soon will be. In this article, we’ll talk further about your cash and energy savings potential by insulating your home. We’ll also discuss more benefits you can enjoy in a properly insulated home.

Let’s get started.

How Much Money and Energy Can You Save by Insulating Your Home?

The saying goes that time is money, but we’d say that energy is money.

When you have to run your air conditioner longer because the rooms in your home are trapping in heat, or when you have to blast your heater to combat the air leaks in your attic, the energy usage adds up. You’ll notice higher utility bills month after month.

So exactly how much money and thus energy can you save by insulating parts of your home such as your basement, crawlspace, and attic? To answer that, let’s look at the guidance from Energy Star.

Determining your potential savings requires that yours is a “typical” home in the United States.  Per the Residential Energy Consumption Survey or RECS through the U.S. Energy Information Administration, Energy Star defines a typical home thusly.

Your home was built between 1970 and 1989 and has four bedrooms. The property has a conditioned floor area up to 1,700 feet. Your home uses stick construction such as wooden rafters, joists, and studs. The attics, if they are insulated, feature blown-in insulation while the walls have fiberglass batts.

The amount of system duct leakage in your home is 23 percent and the window-to-floor area ratio is 15 percent.

If your home meets the above criteria and you get insulation installed in your basement walls, crawlspace, floors over unconditioned basements, and/or attics to increase the insulation R-value, then Energy Star says you can save 15 percent on your cooling and heating bills.

Your total energy costs will also go down by 11 percent.

A chart showing the different saving percentages from each climate zone in the USA.

Let’s break down this information a little bit more. Although it varies throughout the country, an article from moving resource Move.org says that, in 2019, the average household in the US paid $115.49 a month for energy bills.

If you cut your bills by 15 percent, that can result in an average monthly savings of $17.25. In other words, your bill would come in at under $100 per month (the exact amount is $98.24).

At $115.49 per month, you’d pay $1,385.88 on your energy bills annually. With the 15 percent savings applied, you’re only paying $1,178.88 for the year. That’s a total savings of $207.

As we mentioned in the intro, we have seen higher estimates for heating and cooling savings than 15 percent, sometimes up to 20 percent. Your annual energy bill savings would be even greater.

Getting back to total energy costs, what are these? Your total energy cost is the amount of electricity your home uses in kilowatt-hours multiplied by how many hours your home uses power.

Your total energy costs vary depending on your state; we’ll talk more about this in the next section. For now, let’s say your total energy costs are $300.

This is easy math. By taking 11 percent of 300, you’re shaving $33 off your total energy costs.

Money and Energy Savings by Energy Star Climate Zone

The above savings are that of a typical home as a national average. As we’ve already discussed, where you live can play a major role in how much energy you use. That’s why in this section, we want to break down your exact heating and cooling costs savings and your total energy cost savings depending on your climate zone as denoted by Energy Star.

A brightly colored map of the USA showing different colors for each climate zone.

Southern Climate Zones

The southern climate zones according to Energy Star are divided into southern and south-central and include these states:

  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • South Carolina
  • Most of North Carolina
  • Alabama
  • Mississippi
  • Louisiana
  • Most of Arkansas
  • Most of Oklahoma
  • Most of Texas
  • Parts of New Mexico
  • Parts of Arizona
  • Parts of Nevada
  • Parts of Tennessee
  • Some of California
  • Hawaii

Here are the savings by southern climate zone.

  • CZ 1: 7 percent on cooling and heating, 5 percent on total house
  • CZ 2: 9 percent on cooling and heating, 6 percent on total house
  • CZ 3: 14 percent on cooling and heating, 8 percent on total house

Northern Climate Zones

Energy Star splits the northern climate zones into north-central and northern states. They are as follows:

  • Most of Arizona
  • Most of New Mexico
  • Parts of Texas
  • Parts of Oklahoma
  • Parts of Arkansas
  • Most of Tennessee
  • Parts of North Carolina
  • Kentucky
  • Missouri
  • Kansas
  • Colorado
  • Utah
  • Most of Nevada
  • Parts of California
  • Oregon
  • Idaho
  • Washington
  • Montana
  • Wyoming
  • North Dakota
  • South Dakota
  • Nebraska
  • Minnesota
  • Iowa
  • Wisconsin
  • Illinois
  • Michigan
  • Indiana
  • Kentucky
  • Ohio
  • Virginia
  • West Virginia
  • Maryland
  • Delaware
  • New Jersey
  • Connecticut
  • Rhode Island
  • Pennsylvania
  • New York
  • Massachusetts
  • Vermont
  • New Hampshire
  • Maine

With six Energy Star climate zones in the north, here is an overview of your expected savings by region.

  • CZ 4: 17 percent on cooling and heating, 12 percent on total house
  • CZ 4C: 20 percent on cooling and heating, 13 percent on total house
  • CZ 5: 16 percent on cooling and heating, 12 percent on total house
  • CZ 6: 18 percent on cooling and heating, 14 percent on total house
  • CZ 7: 19 percent on cooling and heating, 15 percent on total house
  • CZ 8: 18 percent on cooling and heating, 16 percent on total house

What Are the Other Benefits of Insulating Your Home?

If you’re somehow still not swayed by the potential of year-over-year money savings, then these other benefits of insulating your home might entice you to do it.

Preserves Your HVAC Units

Did you know that today, the average cost to replace a heater or air conditioner is $7,000? Even if you have a rainy-day fund, it’s unlikely that would cover the full cost of replacing your broken HVAC units.

Although these units don’t last forever, you should get at least a decade or two out of them. Having to replace your heater or air conditioner sooner than at 10 years old puts an unnecessary strain on your wallet.

So where does insulation come into all this? When your home is well insulated, it has fewer air leaks that let in outside air. In the winter, this means the frigid air stays outside and your heater doesn’t have to work harder to keep your home toasty.

a man in an orange shirt and hardhat working on an HVAC unit
With less use due to more efficiency after your upgraded insulation due to more regulated and constant temperatures inside the home, you can save money on the maintenance and replacement of your HVAC unit. This savings may not be apparent short-term, but long-term it adds up!

When summer arrives, humid air won’t make its way into your house, keeping your air conditioner on a never-ending run cycle.

Without working as hard and running as frequently, you can preserve your HVAC machines so they might last the full length of their lifespan, perhaps even longer!

Keeps You Healthier

Besides causing temperature fluctuations, outdoor air also brings with it pollutants and allergens. If you’re a pollen allergy sufferer, you wouldn’t even be able to get relief in your own home because the pollen would follow you inside.

The Harvard School of Public Health has assessed what proper insulation could do for public health in this PDF and in other studies. According to Harvard, if all homes in the US had eco-friendly insulation, then every year, there’d be 6,500 fewer asthma attacks.

People would spend 110,000 fewer sick days. Best of all is that the country would have 240 fewer premature deaths.

Reduces Outside Noise

Insulation is excellent at preserving your home’s temperature, but it also prevents outside noise from easily getting into your home. Whether it’s the incessant sounds of cars driving on your busy street or even the barking of your neighbor’s annoying dog, these unwanted sounds make it hard to relax.

Once you get your attic and basement insulated, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by how much quieter your home is. Unwinding after a long day will truly feel refreshing.

Home Value

Even if you never turn around and sell it, your home will be as valuable as possible, which means it’s high-quality and thus nice to live in. Studies increasingly show that energy-efficient homes can go for a higher price because more people are understanding the long-term benefits, such as money savings and comfort.

We experienced this ourselves with our first net-zero home renovation, where we saved about $2,500 per year in total between utility and gas savings. With a strategic yet straightforward combination of energy efficiency (including some insulation upgrades) and solar, the house produces enough power to power the house and the Tesla (EV) for the whole year. You can check out how we did it here.

A picture of a blue Tesla Model 3 in front of our white-painted net-zero house with solar panels on the roof, and palm trees around the yard.
Our first net-zero home renovation, completed in 2020 through the pandemic (pretty stressful!)

Should you change your mind and decide to put the property on the market at some point, you’d fetch quite a high asking price for your home since it’s green from top to bottom.

Conclusion

Insulation can save you a national average of 15 percent on your monthly heating and cooling bills as well as 11 percent of your home’s total energy costs. The hundreds of dollars you save in energy month after month add up to thousands of dollars per year.

Even better than that is knowing that you’re doing what’s right for our planet while increasing your home’s curb appeal!

If you’re looking for more insulation information, we have some additional resources. Here’s a write-up on comparing Rockwool to cellulose. Here’s also one on comparing spray foam to fiberglass as well. And others that answer whether you should insulate your garage or not.

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