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New Report Confirms Cost Effectiveness Of Increased Insulation

A new independent study was released today that measured the cost effectiveness of increasing insulation in the 2004 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC).

The report, conducted by ICF Consulting, an international management, technology, and policy consulting firm which works closely with EPA ENERGY STAR, found that in every climate zone there is a cost-effective, energy-saving insulation wall scenario that meets the 2004 IECC. The final report concluded that the levels of insulation in the 2004 IECC will lead to increased savings and create more affordable housing by decreasing utility costs immediately and over the life of the home.

ICF conducted the study on behalf of the North American Insulation Manufacturers Association (NAIMA) and the Polyisocyanurate Insulation Manufacturers Association (PIMA).

Simulating the annual energy consumption of single-family homes, ICF tested homes configured with one of four wall insulation scenarios using a combination of common insulation materials that either met or exceeded the proposed code requirements. This data was then compared with homes designed with insulation that falls short of the 2004 IECC.

“The ICF study conclusively demonstrates the value of the 2004 IECC,” said Charles Cottrell, vice president, technical services for NAIMA. “The updated codes are a necessary step towards energy conservation since so many homes and buildings are built to the minimum code requirements. The increased levels of insulation represent sound building practice.”

ICF Consulting also reviewed an earlier report by the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) to compare the research strategy used by ICF. The PNNL study was limited in its focus by not taking into account regional variations and only analyzing one insulation scenario that would meet the code.

From its own results and the data included in the PNNL report, ICF concluded the following:

  • In all climate zones, at least one of the wall scenarios had a payback of zero years;
  • Homeowners could receive an immediate cash flow increase of up to $89 per year;
  • Energy savings from increased insulation could continue to accrue throughout the lifetime of the building, unlike the decreasing value of energy-efficient appliances; and
  • Using rigid insulated sheathing with medium-density fiber glass batt insulation is the most effective insulation combination.

“Aided by ICF Consulting’s proprietary modeling tool, our analysis was able to be very granular and present options at a local level. We found that locally and nationally, specific strategies for cost-effectively increasing insulation levels are always available. This is good news for builders and home owners seeking to reduce the overall cost of home ownership,” says David Meisegeier, an ICF Consulting project manager.

ICF Consulting calculated the energy reduction into utility bill savings and compared these figures with cost of materials, installation and labor for several construction types. The study took into account regional variations of utility costs, material and labor costs and housing characteristics. More than 1.23 million simulations were conducted.

For a copy of the report, go to

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