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What To Know About Insulation R-Values

Resistance value or R-value is how insulation is measured. It is an important tool for improving the effectiveness of the insulation throughout your house. If you are worried about the effeteness of the insulation in your house, check out these R-value facts, so you know how to reduce your energy costs.  

R-Value Measures How Well Material Resists the Flow of Heat

R-value is a tool that measures how well your insulation resists the transfer of heat. This means that during the colder months, it reduces how much heat escapes the house, and during the warmer months, it blocks heat from entering the house. The higher the R-value, the better the insulation. Wood, brick, drywall and other common building materials have their own R-value, but it is extremely low, so you need insulation too.

R-Value Recommendations Depend on Where You Live

There are R-value recommendations, and they vary from region to region. Generally, the hotter and more humid the environment, the less R-value you need. Colder regions need a higher R-value to successfully keep heat inside. For example, in Florida, you want an R-Value between R30 and R49 in your attic, but on the other end of the spectrum, if you live in Maine, it's better to have an R-value of R49 to R60 in your attic.

Different Areas of Your Home Require Different R-Values

While the attic is one of the most important areas to add insulation, it isn't the only place that needs insulation. Walls and floors should also be insulated. The attic, requires the highest R-value. Floors have the next highest recommendations, ranging from R13 to R30, depending on where you live. Walls require the lowest R-value (most commonly R13 to R21), but the recommendation depends on whether you have a cavity wall or insulation sheathing. Walls with insulation sheathing need an extremely low R-value, and in warmer climates, they may not need any extra insulation.

Older Homes Don't Have a Good Enough R-Value

If you have an older home and haven't had your insulation replaced, you probably don't have enough insulation. In the past, most homes just weren't built with enough insulation. The reasoning behind this was that builders and homeowners felt the cost of insulation was more expensive than energy. However, that is no longer the belief, and newer homes are built with significantly more insulation and higher R-values.

The Type of Insulation and Amount of Insulation Affect the R-Value

Even if you have an insulation with a low R-value, you can still buff it up by adding more insulation. For example, loose fiberglass has a low R-value between R2.2 and R2.9 per inch. Polyurethane foam has an R-value between 5.6 and 8.0 per inch. Clearly, you'll need more loose fiberglass to get the desires R-value than you would polyurethane foam. Usually, it's better to just stick with a higher R-value adding more insulation.

You Can Add to Your Existing Insulation

Because you can gain a higher R-value by adding more insulation, you don't have to completely replace inefficient insulation. Instead of removing the old insulation, add onto it. First determine the current R-value by measuring the thickness and identifying the material. Then simply add more insulation on top of the old stuff until you get the value you want. You don't have to match the old insulation. In fact, if the old insulation has a low R-value, that may not be a good idea.

Having the right amount of insulation in your house is a major step in keeping your home cool during the summer and warm during the winter. If you're afraid your insulation doesn't have a high enough R-value, add to it. Get started today by checking the insulation in your attic.