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R-Value and You: A Deeper Dive into Energy Efficient Insulation

R-Value and You: A Deeper Dive into Energy Efficient Insulation

An R-value is a measure of a material’s conductive heat resistance. The type, density, and thickness of the material will impact its R-value. A higher R-value reflects a more efficient and effective insulation system. In general, the higher your R-value target is, the higher your budget will need to be. But a common misconception amongst homeowners is that they need the highest R-value available to them. Here are some of the things you need to know about energy-efficient insulation.

Factors to Consider: R-Values

Your attic is just one area of your house that requires insulation. R-value targets will vary based on the room in your home. While R-values are a valuable reference when considering your options for home insulation, there are many factors that can impact your targeted R-value range. Insulation contractors can assess your insulation needs based on things like:

Material Properties

Most materials used in insulation will have an associated R-value per inch of thickness. Every inch of a material applied will increase the R-value of the area by this amount. Materials vary in cost and efficiency. Listed from lowest to highest R-value per inch thickness, common materials used in home insulation include:

  • Blown fiberglass – lowest R-value
  • Fiberglass (batts)
  • Open-cell spray
  • Foamboard
  • Closed-cell spray – highest R-value

These home insulation materials are also listed from low to high price point ranges. Cost and R-value usually go hand in hand. The quality of the material will have an impact on its R-value. For example, not every sheet of fiberglass has the same production and composition. A professional can help you select the right type and quality of material for your individual needs.

Accumulation

The R-value of an insulated area is a calculation that’s based on accumulation. The more insulation material that’s present, the higher the R-value will be. Different forms of insulation can be stacked together and the R-value will be the sum of the R-values of the combined materials. The cumulative properties of material insulation allow homeowners to implement cost-effective combinations of techniques, rather than relying on the material properties of the most expensive option throughout their homes.

Methods of Heat Transfer

An R-value is a reliable method of analyzing the conductive heat transfer in your home. However, heat can be transferred through convection and radiation, as well. Convective heat transfer occurs between fluids, such as air or water. Some homes have larger problems with convective heat transfer than others. Basing home insulation decisions strictly around a target R-value may not be the best choice. A professional can walk you through sustainable insulation methods based on all your home’s needs. 

Location

A home in Florida will have different R-value targets than a home in Wisconsin. The R-value targeted in walls stays pretty consistent in most regions of the U.S. However, targeted attic R-values vary and increase as you travel north. 

Consulting with insulation professionals can offer insight into what the location of your house means for your insulation needs. With the right help and the right materials, you can keep the climate in your home and attic exactly where you need it to be. 


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