Insulation is the single most important factor in the energy-efficiency of a home, helping to provide a barrier between the air inside and outside of your home. Its ability to do this is measured by its thermal resistance, or R-value. The problem is that it’s not always clear how much insulation you need in your home. Whether you’re building a new house or making improvements to your existing home, here’s a handy guide to ensure that you’re using the proper amount of insulation.
Check Your Climate Zone
It may seem obvious, but the degree of insulation you’ll need depends on the type of climate in which you live. The United States Department of Energy divides the nation into eight zones in all, but in general the most insulation is required for homes in the northern half of the United States and Alaska. The 5-10-20-40-60 rule refers to ideal level, or the recommended R-values, to be used for the windows, sub-foundation, basement walls, above-ground framed walls, and attic.
It’s Not Just Heating
Most people associate insulation with cold weather and reduced heating costs, but that’s not the whole story. Though heating is often by far the biggest expense when it comes to maintaining comfortable living conditions, cooling can be a significant expense as well. Because the fundamental principle of insulation is to prevent the transfer of heat, proper insulation is no less important for homes in hotter climates. Though a lower R-value is acceptable for the foundation, windows and walls, the attic or roof of a home in a hot climate should be just as well-insulated as one in a colder climate.
Retrofitting a Home
While the best time to add proper insulation is during the construction of a home, the insulation in existing homes can often still be improved significantly without drastic renovations. In this case, the concern is less about the R-value and more about maximizing the amount of insulation you’re able to fit in a given area. All framed walls should have every cavity filled to capacity with the thickest insulation that can be used, and it should extend from top to bottom with no visible gaps. And if the ceiling joists are still visible in your attic, that means there is not enough insulation.
With the cost of energy steadily rising, it’s more important than ever to have proper insulation. To learn more, contact USI online to get a free quote. USI believes that excellence in every step of the process ensures timely completion and quality service, time after time.
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