What does R-Value mean?
R-value is a measure of resistance to heat flow through a given thickness of material. R-value is important, but it’s just one of four key factors that determine the effectiveness of an insulation material. The R-value is tested in an air-tight vacuum chamber, which means that typical insulation materials like fiberglass and cellulose do not actually perform with that value unless paired with intense air sealing measures.
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How much will I save by adding insulation to my home?
The savings will depend on the size of the home, but you can read our article, “Invest in Insulation” that outlines how much an average home will save – somewhere around $1,300/year.
How much insulation should my house have?
a. R-49 in roofs or ceilings between conditioned space and unconditioned.
b. R-21 in exterior walls, or R-15 on the inside, if continuous insulation is used on the outside.
c. R-30 in basement ceilings or crawlspace ceilings.
These numbers are just latest IECC code numbers, but a HERS rated can modify these through modeling of a house.
Will insulation contribute to energy savings year-round?
Yes, but the savings will depend on the size of the home. Read our article, “Invest in Insulation” that outlines how much an average home will save – somewhere around $1,300/year.
What is the difference between fiberglass, cellulose, and foam insulations?
Fiberglass is a type of fiber primarily composed of glass. It is very inexpensive but doesn’t provide long-term insulation protection as it does not perform to its R-value (see question #1), and the material degrades over time.
Cellulose is made from recycled newsprint and other paper sources, paper that might otherwise end up in landfills, releasing greenhouse gases as it decomposes. It forms a seamless blanket of natural fibers that provide outstanding protection against extreme heat and cold. On the hottest and coldest days, cellulose won’t lose its effective R-value as long as the area is properly air-sealed prior to installation (see question #1).
Foam Insulation (open and closed cell spray foam) reduces excess waste and energy consumption in buildings by up to 50% while adding strength (closed cell) and greater resistance to the leakage of air and water vapor (closed cell) and in open cell has sound attenuating properties (STC 38 in a 2×4 wall assembly). Spray foam insulation is vastly superior in performance to fiberglass, and although more expensive, has a relatively fast pay-back period (ROI) over fiberglass. Closed cell spray has the highest R-value per inch making is the perfect material for renovations and retrofit work.
Can insulation help reduce unwanted sound?
Dense Packed materials such as cellulose and mineral wool give some of the best sound attenuation of any product on the market. Mineral wool batts are also effective to stop noise transfer. Open cell spray foam has tremendous sound attenuating properties (STC 38 in a 2×4 wall assembly) and makes for a substantial air-seal at greater thicknesses.
How can I lower energy costs?
We recently wrote a blog article about that subject, “5 Easy Ways to Increase Energy Efficiency and Save Money.”
Why insulate an attic?
As everyone knows, heat rises. When the lower part of your house is nice and warm because your furnace is chugging away, the warm air is wafting up, up and away, into the attic and out the roof. Experts agree that the attic is arguably the greatest single area for heat loss in the home.
The only way to prevent this is to first air seal and then insulate. The beauty of good attic insulation is that it will also prevent cool air from escaping in the summer (when your air conditioner is chugging away). Insulating the roof line is a great way to protect and increase the life of HVAC equipment as well as protect any items stored in the attic. This also prevents ice dams!
Why insulate a crawl space?
Crawl space insulation, as a part of overall home air sealing and insulation, helps maintain your entire home’s energy efficiency. Without insulation, heat and cool air are easily lost through the floor. Insulation also helps to preserve the air quality and reduce energy costs by preventing moist and potentially contaminated air from entering the house through damp and musty basements and crawlspaces.
Why insulate walls?
Batt, blown-In, and spray foam insulation are particularly effective means of insulating walls. They save energy, reduce heating and cooling bills, control noise, and even reduce condensation and rot.
Why Insulate Ceilings?
Here are a few reasons:
a) Save Money: You’re probably paying 40% more on your heating and cooling costs if you’ve overlooked your ceiling insulation. Warm air rises to the ceiling, and colder air tends to drop.
b) Increased Comfort: Insulation slows down heat transfer to keep your rooms warm in the winter and cool in the summer.
c) Prevent Mold: Properly installed insulation prevents condensation, which can accumulate on the walls and ceilings and cause moisture problems.
d) Save on Energy Costs: The average household spends approximately $2,200 annually on their energy bills. Up to 70% of this energy goes towards heating or cooling your house. Insulating your ceiling can reduce your costs by up to 40% based on factors such as the size of your home and climate. According to those figures, you can reduce your heating and cooling costs by about $616 every year.
What insulation is best?
All types of insulation have their place.
a. Closed cell foam is great for air sealing and R-value where there are space constraints, moisture concerns, etc. Also, closed cell foam increases the strength of the structure.
b. Open cell is good at air sealing and R-value where there is enough depth to use it. Open cell is also good for sound attenuation.
c. Cellulose is good where there is enough depth to reach desired R-value and is great for sound attenuation. Cellulose does not have great air sealing capability, but it will slow/resist airflow if dense packed into walls. Cellulose is even fire, mold/mildew, and rodent resistant. Cellulose is also considered one of the most environmentally-friendly types of insulation due to its embodied energy.
d. Rockwool is very similar to cellulose, except it has better fire-resistant properties and moisture properties and a little bit more R-value per inch.
e. Fiberglass is the last one we measure because it is the least effective. The main pros for fiberglass are that it will get you to the desired R-value, if there is enough depth, and it is inexpensive. Fiberglass does not have air sealing capabilities, and it gets ruined and grows mold easily if it gets wet. Pests love to nest in it! The kraft paper backing/vapor retarder is flammable and not supposed to be left exposed, and the fiberglass fibers are a known and measurable contaminant to the atmosphere, and thought to be a carcinogen.
Which insulation do I need?
What R-value do I need?
What is formaldehyde?
Formaldehyde is a colorless poisonous gas synthesized by the oxidation of methanol and used as an antiseptic, disinfectant, histologic fixative, and general-purpose chemical reagent for laboratory applications. The use of formaldehyde in fiberglass insulation stopped in 2015.
Is insulation flammable?
This is a myth meant to cause fear! Foam does not spontaneously combust, nor does it ignite easily, even when held to a hostile flame. If a home has spray foam insulation in an attic or crawl space, the building code requires using materials or assemblies that offer some fire resistance. If you’ve got spray foam insulation in an attic or crawlspace, for example, it’s probably already separated from the living space by a thermal barrier. Most ceilings are made of half-inch drywall. But, if the spray foam is exposed to storage in the attic, it will need an additional thermal barrier. This is applied in the form of a paint over the foam. Closed cell foam (and some open cell) is already treated with an ignition barrier and is therefore safe to leave exposed to utilities and ductwork without the additional thermal barrier.
Can anyone install spray foam or cellulose insulation?
Unfortunately the insulation world is an unlicensed and an unregulated industry. Make sure to ask for licenses, certifications, insurance, and references when choosing an insulation company. Not only do we have our HIC, ICLS, Lead-safe and BPI licenses and certifications, we are one of the few companies in the area that can boast SPFA master installers on our team. This means they have passed extensive training and exams and have completed at least 500,000 board feet on insulation experience!