Insulation Basics: What Are R-Values?
When figuring out how to best insulate your home, it’s important to understand R-values, the system for rating insulation’s ability to resist heat transfer, either into your home in the summer or out of it in the winter. Choosing an appropriate insulating material for your home requires making choices based upon R-value. While a higher R-value means a higher heat resistance capability, different parts of a building call for different R-values, and this entire spectrum varies from region to region.
For homes in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware, relatively high R-values are suggested. In an uninsulated attic or even an attic with 3-4 inches of existing insulation, a minimum of R-38 is needed. However, it’s not uncommon for attics in this area to be insulated with materials rated at as high as R-60. Floors can be insulated with materials between R-25 and R-30 for best results. Walls can be insulated with as low as R-5 rated materials. The reason for the range of values between the floor and ceiling is that far more heat loss occurs out the roof than through the foundation.
Although significant energy can be lost by leaking heat into the cold earth, it’s crucial for an attic to sufficiently contain your home’s warmth (or keep from transferring down into your attic and living spaces in the summer). Since heat transfer is generally more vertical than horizontal, wall insulation can be at a much lower R-level and still be effective. In fact, houses in warmer regions often contain no wall insulation at all. Remember, these R-values are consistent across all types of insulation, from foam to fiberglass, and must be understood before anything is installed. When mixing different types of insulating material, consult with an expert to determine how these R-values will be affected.
For more expert advice on insulating your home, please contact Sobieski Services, Inc. We aim to educate our customers in Delaware, Pennsylvania, Maryland and New Jersey about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC & plumbing systems). We look forward to servicing the needs of our community and keeping everyone warm all winter long.
Photo Credit: CarbonNYC via Compfight cc