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What is an R-Value?

November 29, 2021 | Blog

Most homeowners are aware that home insulation is crucial for any home. It not only improves indoor comfort, but it also prevents heat from entering into your home and from letting it escape. This means it significantly affects your home’s energy efficiency and utility bill in the long run. 

KCA Services understands that figuring out what insulation is best for your home can be a challenge. A lot of terminology gets thrown, namely, the “R-value”, which is one of the most important home insulation factors to consider. We’ll be discussing R-value in this blog, so keep reading to learn more! 

How does insulation work?  

To understand R-value, you need to understand a bit of background information on insulation. Simply put, the goal of insulation is to reduce the movement of heat flow. Heat naturally flows towards cold, so insulation serves as a barrier between the two. It resists heat flow. 

What kind of insulation is there? 

There are several types of insulation available to homeowners, all of which have different advantages. Here are a few: 

  • Blanket — typically made of fiberglass and used for unfinished walls and ceilings 
  • Concrete block — typically made of foam boards and used for walls and major renovations 
  • Sprayed foam — cementitious and used for new wall cavities or unfinished attics 
  • Loose fill — typically made of cellulose and used for unfinished attics and floors 

What is R-Value? 

While all forms of heat flow play a role in the effectiveness of insulation, most insulation systems and materials reduce heat flow through conduction. 

According to Energy Star, insulation levels are determined by R-value, which measures how well it can resist heat traveling through it. The higher the R-value (the thicker the insulation), the more effective the insulating material. 

The Federal Trade Commission regulates home insulation marketing claims. They also will explain how exactly the R-Value for a particular product or material was determined.  

The Department of Energy states that installing more insulation in your home (increasing the thickness) increases overall R-value. However, to properly increase the R-value you need to choose the right material. For example, adding more loose-fill insulation to your attic may increase the thickness of the insulation but it also increases density. That settled density can cause the insulation to compress under its own weight. In other words, the increase in insulation didn’t affect R-value in the end! 

 What level of R-Value do I need? 

Energy Star states that the level of insulation your home needs depends entirely on the climate and location. An existing wood-framed home in San Antonio, for example, should have additional R-25 to R-38 of insulation installed. 

The DOE has also stated that how well your home’s insulation performs depends largely on how it was installed. The Cellulose Trade Group recommends consulting with a local insulation contractor to find out how much insulation you need for your climate.  

It’s also important to remember that R-value is only one factor that affects overall insulation. It doesn’t consider air leaks in the ratings. Contacting a professional HVAC technician will help you locate any leaks that could be affecting your home’s energy efficiency. This will also give you a better idea of what R-value is really needed for your home. 

 Contact KCA Services

Do you suspect that your Kendall County home or attic may be needing more insulation? Or are you looking for advice on which R-value to choose? KCA Services Comfort Specialists can help! Contact us today to learn more about our attic installation services! 

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