The type of insulation you choose for your small house is a significant decision that is based on factors such as the climate for your region, your lifestyle, the size and shape of your house, and the type of heating system you install. Choosing the best insulation for homes is a key issue in determining the comfort level of the temperature inside of your house for many years following installation. It will also be a deciding factor in how efficiently your house will utilize energy which of course will determine your costs.
There are many different types of insulation on the market. The best insulation for homes is one of four basic types: 1) loose fill insulation, 2) batt and blanket insulation, 3) rigid board insulation, and 4) spray foam insulation. There is also a fairly new type of insulation known as Reflectix used for all energy system types including radiant heat floors. This new type of insulation is made with two layers of pure aluminum that are separated by 5/16” of dead air space.
Loose fill insulation is a cellulose fiber that it blown into the walls using special equipment. The cost comparison with batt and blanket is higher in price; however the advantage is that it is very effective at filling in the nooks and crannies and reducing air leakage. Batt and blanket insulation is a standard fiberglass insulation that is installed between the joists, in floors, and in ceilings. Rigid board insulation is also made from fiber glass and is generally used to insulate flat roofs and basement walls. Spray foam insulation is made of polymers and foaming agents and is applied by spraying into the walls through a nozzle.
Speaking from personal experience, I put standard fiberglass batt insulation into my house. I would not do it again. I would definitely do blown in cellulose next time. The problem with batt insulation is that is gets compressed where it has to go behind wiring. And you have to have long sleeves and gloves when handling it to keep the microscopic glass fibers out of your skin. With blown in cellulose you get a continuous filling of the wall cavity.
Whatever type of insulation you choose be sure that includes an Energy Star label and National Association of Home Builders certification. You will also want to check the building code for your jurisdiction for any standard insulation requirements. In some jurisdiction that is a required thickness for the insulation.
Using the best insulation for homes will keep your small house a uniform temperature during the cold winter months as well as keep the house cool during the warm summer months. To ensure the best efficiency, be sure to install vents in the attic for cooling during the summer and to control the moisture. Remember to keep the vented areas free of insulation to allow for proper airflow.
The areas to be included when you insulate your small house are the walls, ceilings, crawl spaces, ducts, floors, and basement. It is also especially important to insulate the attic well since heat rises and will inevitably escape through the top floor of the house. I would also not advise skimping on insulation because you will only pay more later in energy costs.