New research from the University of Minnesota suggests that a $1.49-per-month insulation package may be as effective as a new roof.
The research, led by the Department of Housing and Urban Development, found that people who buy a new, fully insulated roof and replace it with a partially insulated roof with a full-cover layer over it spend an average of $1 less per year on heating, cooling, electricity and water than people who don’t.
Researchers used data from the U.S. Census Bureau to track people in the U, Puerto Rico and the U-M population in the months before, during and after the winter months of 2016 and 2017.
The researchers found that the most common type of insulation material was polyethylene terephthalate (PET), with the most commonly used type being polyethylenes.
The most expensive insulation materials were polypropylene, which the researchers used in about 70 percent of the panels, and polyethylenimine, which was used in 35 percent of panels.
They found that in winter months, the average person spent $1 more per year in energy and heating compared to people who didn’t buy a partially insulating roof.
“The cost savings are huge, and we were able to compare the results with data from previous studies, including those conducted in other countries and that of the U., Puerto Rico, and the United States,” said lead author Jason Calkins, a doctoral student in the department of architecture.
The study is one of the first to examine the costs and benefits of using different types of insulation materials in different locations.
The study was conducted as part of the research program “A Better Way to Save Money for Energy and Heat” funded by the National Science Foundation.
The findings could have major implications for energy consumption in the United Kingdom, which uses polypropylene in about 50 percent of its homes, according to the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors.
“In the U.’s case, this is a pretty big effect because it’s equivalent to about 10 percent of our total energy use,” said co-author Daniel Kilduff, a senior research associate at the University at Buffalo.
“If we are looking at what could happen to our energy consumption by 2050 if we don’t make any changes, that is a very significant impact.”
A $1/month savings from an insulated roof over a new home could translate into up to $20,000 a year in savings.
“It’s not as though we can just buy a whole new roof and say, ‘OK, now we have a roof,'” Kilduf said.
“It’s going to be more about how do you apply it to your existing roof, and then you can see how it impacts the price of a new one.”
The researchers estimate that, over the next 10 years, the cost savings could reach as much as $3,000 per year for a $500,000 home, depending on how well the insulation works and whether the insulation is installed on an insulated or non-insulated roof.