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Insulating Your Home – What You Need to Know About R-Value

A well-insulated home can reduce energy bills and protect your home from dampness and mold. But you need insulation with the right R-value.

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Heat retention is important in areas with colder winters. So, the recommended minimum R-value depends at least in part on where you live. If you live somewhere like Kansas City or St. Louis, you will need insulation with a higher R-value than people who live further south in states with milder winters. 

What Is R-Value? 

The R-value is a measure of the thermal resistance for materials used in construction, for example, crawl space insulation. Higher R-values indicate better heat retention. 

The R-value depends on factors such as the material used, the type of insulation, and the skill with which it is installed. Heat retention does not depend just on the thickness of the insulation but also the conductive properties of the material. 

Types of Insulation 

There are several options for insulating your home and they can be suitable for different situations. 

Roll insulation: A traditional material for this type of insulation is fiberglass. It is typically fitted between studs, joists, and beams. 

Batting: Cut out pieces of insulation that need to be fastened together tightly. Gaps between the batts can reduce heat retention. As with rolls, materials such as fiberglass, mineral wool, and natural fibers are common. As with rolls, it is often placed between joists and beams, under floors, in walls, and attics. 

Blown-in insulation: Commonly used for attic floors and wall cavities, it often consists of small particles of fiber or expanded polystyrene beads. 

Spray foam insulation: This is different from blown-in insulation as it is applied using an aerosol spray and it tends to stick to surfaces more than blown-in insulation, it can be used on walls and other places such as attic floors. It can be particularly good for adding insulation around irregularly shaped areas and obstructions. 

Rigid foam: This type of insulation comes in the form of large, pre-formed sheets that can be cut to size; it can incorporate reflective surfaces to increase heat retention. It has a high insulating value for relatively little thickness. 

The different types of insulation have different strengths and weaknesses, for example, fiberglass batts and rolls are easily available, but they are also easily damaged by humidity and dampness and have a relatively low R-value. Some rolls come with a facing layer that can help reduce moisture problems. Spray foam has a better R-value but if for some reason you wanted to replace it in the future, it is quite difficult to remove. Rigid foam tends to have better heat retention and is more resilient than some materials like fiberglass even though it is thinner. 

Where Should You Insulate? 

The areas of your home that require insulation include the attic and possibly the knee wall (not all attics have a knee wall). Warm air rises so if your attic isn’t insulated the heat will escape through the roof. Essentially, you’ll be paying to heat the air above your house. Cold and dampness can enter the house through the crawl space or basement, lowering the temperature of floors and making the house feel colder. In addition, heat can escape through walls and windows. 

In the case of crawl space insulation, not all approaches to insulation offer the same level of protection. A traditional approach is to use roll or batt insulation between the floor joists and, while this can be cheap and easy, it doesn’t protect the crawl space itself against extreme cold, dampness, or mold. Any pipes or boilers in an unprotected crawl space or basement will be exposed to low temperatures and some heat will be lost. If the pipes are not insulated, they can freeze and potentially burst. 

Benefits of Insulation 

Cities like St. Louis and Kansas City can experience average dry winter temperatures down around 20°F and humid summers up around 90°F, so home heating and cooling energy costs can be high. A well-insulated home can help reduce annual energy costs. According to some sources, a typical home energy bill could be cut by up to 40 percent after the house has been properly insulated. Other benefits of good insulation include external noise reduction and moisture control. 

So, what’s the best insulation product? We recommend ExTremeBloc™ as it can provide you with effective insulation. Infused with graphite, this product has an expanded polystyrene and a heat reflective surface, which creates a continuous plane of R-11 insulation all around your crawl space or basement.  

Contact Foundation Recovery Systems to request a free inspection and quote today. We’ll take a good look at your basement or crawl space and advise you what the best insulation and repair options are.