Heating costs leave insulation contractors busy

The rising cost of home heating is keeping phones ringing at insulation contractors throughout the Granite State.

“It’s seasonal. We always see an increase in demand this time of year, but the demand this year is higher than years past,” said Kyle Niemela, vice president of Builders Insulation Co. Inc. in Auburn.

While the increase appears to be driven by the high cost of heating oil, natural gas and propane users will be feeling the pinch this year also. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, winter fuel expenditures for individuals heating with oil are expected to increase more than 30 percent, going as high as 58 percent if colder winter weather comes our way. Those intending to heat with natural gas can expect a 48 percent increase (with colder winter forecasts sending costs as high at 68 percent), and propane users are expected to see a rise of between 30 and 54 percent.

Increased requests for added insulation in existing homes has contractors like Niemela scheduling jobs four to six weeks out, motivating some homeowners to find alternatives to address energy conservation in the short term.

Niemela suggests homeowners look at eliminating air infiltration problems starting with areas around windows and doors and along basement perimeters where the foundation meets the house.

A crack as small as a sixteenth of an inch can let as much cold air in (and heat out) as if the window had been left open three inches, according to PowerHouse, the energy educators at Alliance Energy. Windows and doors can account for 20 percent of heat loss in the average home.

When it comes to insulation, however, it is difficult to generalize exactly how much homeowners can save, according to Niemela, but the number can be as high as 30 percent according to the U.S. Department of Energy. This is especially true of older homes.

“Any home 10 years old or younger is adequately insulated by code,” Niemela said. – TRACIE STONE

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