Insulation FAQ: What is R-Value?

What is R-Value? 

When learning more about what makes insulation important to your building, it's important to start with the basics. The material that's been installed throughout your home helps in maintaining climate control, reducing outdoor pollutants, and improving energy efficiency. Arguably the most important function of insulation, though, is temperature regulation; this is accomplished by reducing the rate of heat transfer, which is how heat enters and exits a building. When insulation is improperly installed, damaged, or deteriorated, it's less effective at slowing this movement, which can result in the following issues: 

  • Drafts or cold spots
  • Poor indoor air quality
  • One room or side of the house is too cold or hot compared to the rest of your home
  • Higher energy costs and frequent HVAC maintenance

If you’re experiencing any of these problems, you may be wondering how you can determine if the insulation in your home is doing its job. One way to check your insulation is by calculating its current R-value. Short for resistance value, this is the numerical measurement of how effectively an insulation material can reduce the rate of heat transfer. A higher R-value generally means the material is better at slowing the movement of heat in and out of your building envelope. If you and your household are starting to notice an increase in discomfort or irregular temperatures, don’t blame the passing weather! It’s important to check for poor insulation before these symptoms turn into bigger problems that could affect your health, energy efficiency, and monthly bills.

Insulation Materials and Their R-Values

Each insulation material has its own R-value and even the measurements can vary depending on the type of insulation and how much is applied. For example, while blown-in fiberglass has an average of R-2.7 per inch of depth, fiberglass batts have an average that can be between R-3.1 and R-3.7. These are made from the same insulation material, fiberglass, but two different types; blown-in is loose-fill insulation typically installed on attic floors while batts are pallets of material that can be installed in between ceiling joists and within walls. With more blown-in applied or double-up batts, these R-values increase to fit the needs of your home. 

These simple variables are what makes it important to remember that while some materials may have a lower R-value, it doesn't necessarily mean they're poor insulators. Instead, they may have different application benefits and strengths that make them more suitable for the area they're being installed. Blown-in insulation is more suited to be installed along the floor of your attic than batts because the material can fit into small cracks and gaps, reducing air leaks that would be left unsealed if you were to lay down insulation batts. If you're looking for more information on the various benefits and comparisons of the various insulation types, take a look at our article on How To Choose Insulation

How To Improve R-Value 

Although there are some insulation materials that can last up to 15 years, deterioration of the material can significantly reduce R-value over time. There are also multiple factors that can reduce the lifespan of insulation, exponentially increasing the rate of deterioration; the most common damages come from moisture exposure, leaks in the roof or foundation, and pest infestation. When you regularly evaluate and inspect the material throughout your home, retrofitting insulation and air sealing when necessary, you can significantly improve your environment before damaged and deteriorated material begins to impact the comfort and safety of the house

When you schedule a free evaluation with your local Koala Insulation experts, our team finds areas that have problematic insulation in need of removal and replacement. The insulation technicians check the area to ensure there aren’t additional problems such as moisture, mold, or pest infestation that can get covered by newer material. Once we’ve properly prepared the space, we install updated material to restore the R-value to an appropriate level. However, one myth many homeowners fall prey to is the idea that more R-value is always a good idea. Instead, it’s important to know the needs of your home before taking on a DIY insulation project or asking for more material to be installed. Adding in thicker batts or dumping loads of blown-in material throughout your home might be the opposite of what you need!

What R-value Does My Home Need? 

Your home has a unique environment that's impacted by a multitude of factors. This includes your climate zone, building codes, and even your regular household habits. The areas you're insulating also have different needs and there isn't necessarily a one-size-fits-all solution for each space. Calculating the R-value your home requires isn't necessarily a simple task; while you can use regional guidelines and even information from industry leaders like the Department of Energy, these are recommendations that won’t get you the same specialization as a thorough investigation of your personal environment. 

Each room, floor, and crawl space can have a different R-value requirement. Having an experienced insulation technician provide your household with the current condition of your home’s material can significantly improve your understanding of the house’s needs. Even when you’re planning to do a simple DIY update for minor insulation adjustments or improvements, having their skilled perspective can educate you enough to avoid costly mistakes. 

Find Cost-Effective and Energy-Efficient Solutions

Learning more about the insulation and air swelling throughout your home can help you and your household make informed decisions. This can not only impact the comfort and safety of your environment but also lead to decreased energy usage and monthly costs. If you’re looking for ways to save on energy bills and regular maintenance fees, it's time to talk to a local expert. 

The insulation professionals at Koala insulation are trained and experienced in improving the environment of their communities. Our local pros offer free evaluations so your household has a better understanding of your home’s needs. They also break down the current condition of your insulation and air sealing so you can target pain points and future updates while taking into account your schedule and budget. Contact your local Koala Insulation experts today to learn more about how our free evaluations can impact your comfort, safety, and savings.