Installing spray foam insulation

Buying Guide:  Choose the right insulation for your attic and walls

Quality insulation is a common way to cut energy costs. Here are some facts to consider before you buy.

Insulation limits the heat transfer between inside and outside, which makes it key to increasing comfort in any home. A well-insulated home will also help cut your energy costs.

There are many types of insulation on the market, so if you’re planning to install insulation in your home, it’s important to know the different options available.

Here’s a breakdown of what you’re likely to come across:

Blanket insulation

Batt and blanket insulation

Batt and blanket insulation are the most commonly used types of insulation for unfinished walls, floors and ceilings, and the easiest to install. Made of flexible fibres like fibreglass, rock wool or natural fibres, this type of insulation can be cut to fit the space you are filling.

Loose insulation

Blown-in or loose-fill insulation

Blown-in or loose-fill insulation is best suited for attics, or other hard to reach areas like sloped ceilings or roofs. It is also used for filling cavities or topping up existing insulation. Made from fibreglass or cellulose, this type of insulation can be poured or blown into cavities. Keep in mind, though, that blown-in and blanket insulation is not a substitute for air sealing.

Board insulation

Rigid board insulation

Made from mineral fibre or foam plastics, rigid board insulation is typically a rigid board used to insulate walls, roofs and foundations. At a higher cost than blanket or loose-fill insulation, the foam material has a higher insulating value for a given thickness, and is more water-resistant than fibreglass insulation.

Foam insulation

Spray foam insulation

Spray foam insulation is an expanding foam that is sprayed into the surface or cavity in which it is being installed. This type of insulation is best suited for attic and wall insulation or other cavities that need tight air sealing.

Think about thickness, and the amount

As you explore insulation options, you’ll want to keep an eye on the R-value which tells you how effective the insulation is. The R-value is measured by the thickness of the material and how effectively it limits heat transfer. The higher the R-value, the better the resistance to heat loss (and the better the savings, too).

The amount of insulation you need depends on where you live and how old your home is. Start by checking to see if your home is already insulated. If it is, look at the R-value, and see if you can improve it. Generally, you should get as much insulation as the structure or space allows without obstructing ventilation.

Consider the space

Once you know the options available, you’ll want to decide which area – or areas – of your home you’re going to insulate. To make your home more energy-efficient, choose an area that tends to let a lot of heat out.

Consider starting with your attic. This is typically the most efficient and cost-effective area to insulate. Alternatively, investigate insulating exterior walls, or walls between heated and unheated living spaces, like your garage, or floors above cold areas, like crawlspaces.

Keep in mind that any insulation is better than no insulation, so you can’t go wrong in choosing an area. You also don’t need to do everything at once, so even choosing a small area to insulate will still make a positive difference when it comes to saving energy.

When you’ve decided what space you want to insulate, do some additional research to help you identify what type of insulation is best for you based on the characteristics of the area you’re insulating.


Keeping the heat inExplore your insulation options in this book by Natural Resources Canada.

Get an unbiased opinion

Before moving forward with insulation, reach out to a certified energy advisor (CEA) to get an unbiased opinion on your needs. Your local hydro company can direct you to professionals in your area.

A CEA can help you determine what type of insulation is right for your home. Then, the auditor can provide an estimate of how much insulation you’ll need, and where to put it. This will ensure you are well-informed when entering the buying phase.

Get multiple quotes

If you’re planning to install insulation yourself, make sure your supplier provides you with an overview of installation techniques, instructions and any health and safety issues.

If you plan to hire a professional, get multiple quotes so you can compare your options and make sure you are getting the best service and price for the needs that you and your CEA have identified.

During the installation you should also ask your CEA about any incentives that you may be eligible for.


Certified energy advisorsFind your certified energy advisor (CEA) here.

Look for other ways to improve

Insulating your home is always a good idea, but it’s not the only method you can use to reduce energy costs.

For example, if you’re dealing with air leaks, then you may need to use caulking or weatherstripping in some areas, before considering insulation. Insulation is not a substitute for air sealing.

Or, if moisture is a concern, then you may need to install a vapour barrier, a thin material between your interior wall and insulation that prevents moisture from damaging your home.

Enjoy your newly insulated home

Finally, enjoy the comfort that a newly insulated home can offer – and enjoy the savings, too.

Want to learn more about upgrading your home?

Check out our LED lighting buying guide and our furnace buying guide.


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