It’s getting cool again, and before long most of Canada will become cold enough to kill you. And while your house will almost certainly keep you alive this winter, the cold, cruel blast will likely do damage to your finances and your comfort level. Ask yourself this: how much will winter have to cost, or how cold will your toes have to get, before you decide to do something to keep as much of the heat you pay for inside your home?

Insulation is your main defense against winter, of course, but it comes with a lot of questions. Where should it go? What kind should you use? How much will it cost? There’s still time before winter arrives to build defenses around your pocket book and your extremities by installing more insulation, and the process is simpler than it seems. All you need to remember is this simple phrase: “At least 22 up top”.

Of all the places to apply more insulation in a home, attics usually offer the biggest bang for the buck. No location is easier and faster to upgrade, and the attic insulation industry is mature, well equipped and experienced enough to do a good job in a short time. Investing less than $1000 and hiring a professional for a few hours could result in significant cost savings to heat and cool many Canadian homes – year after year. While it’s true that some homes need extra insulation in walls, basements, and floors, more likely than not, boosting attic insulation is the lowest hanging fruit on the tree.

So how much attic insulation is enough? As much as you can afford. I disagree with the experts who believe there’s an upper limit for attic insulation. I’ve seen many super-insulated houses that use tiny amounts of energy with R60, R70, and even R90 in the attic. Minimum levels of attic insulation vary across the country, but if there’s anything less than 22” of depth on the floor of your attic, you need more. You should have at least R60 up top, but as I said, more is better.

It goes without saying that everyone wants to spend less money to heat their homes. Governments and utility companies across Canada want to help make things as affordable as possible, so they have introduced financial incentives and rebates to help reduce the energy consumption of Canadian homes, including programs for insulation upgrades. Trouble is, it’s not easy to discover what kind of programs are available, when they’re available, and how to apply. Provinces and utility companies each offer different programs. New incentives show up and old ones disappear at any time of the year. Getting free money for home insulation is not as simple as it may seem, and that’s why a one-stop source for a Canada-wide home insulation incentives program was created.

This past summer, NAIMA Canada, an association representing Canadian insulation manufacturers, launched an online tool for discovering how to get financial help insulating homes, businesses and institutions. After clicking on the type of building you’ve got, the province it’s in, and perhaps the utility company that provides you with service, you’ll then get a detailed list of all the programs available to you, with clickable links, email addresses and phone numbers that will help you find more information and sign up. There’s never been anything else like this online information database in the country, and it’s constantly updated as programs change.

Insulation may not be top of mind when deciding which home improvement upgrades you’ll invest in, but it’s one of the wisest for improving the energy performance of your home by keeping the heat indoors. Not only will it help make your home cozier, but it will also help you save money so you can afford other things in life – especially if you are provided with free money from the government or your utility company.

All it comes down to is something as simple as “at least 22 up top.”