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What Does the R-Value of Insulation Really Mean?

What Does the R-Value of Insulation Really Mean?

When you look at insulation materials such as batting, panels, foam and more, you will see an important rating that looks like "R13" or "R30" and so on. This is called the R-Value, and while it may not mean much at first glance, it's a rating that defines just how good the insulation will be at protecting your house. Here are the top things to know about R-Values when choosing the insulation for your home.

1. R-Value Measures Resistance

The R-Value is all about resistance, specifically, how easily materials resist the flow of heat. Heat passes through objects at different rates. For example, it can pass very quickly through metal, which is why metal grows hot so quickly, and why it's not a very popular insulation material. Many features, like air bubbles, thicker materials, heat-resistant substances, and more, can slow down heat, which means that your home loses heat more slowly in the winter and gains it more slowly in the summer.

2. Higher R-Values are Better

R-values can range considerably. Typical house insulation materials tend to range from R6 to R60. The higher the number, the more heat insulation that product provides. When comparing similar products, this quickly becomes evident, because the products with higher values tend to be thicker, heavier and more durable. However, this doesn't mean that higher R-values are always better, which brings us to our next point.

R-values can range considerably. Typical house insulation materials tend to range from R6 to R60. The higher the number, the more heat insulation that product provides.

3. Recommended R-Values Vary Greatly Based on Region

As you might expect, colder regions benefit more from higher R-values. In fact, experts have a map of the country with different regions, each with their own set of recommended R-values. The very northern parts of the country require particularly high values, while the further south you go, the lower R-values you need. It's important to find out what region you live in and what the recommended R-values are before you purchase any insulation materials. When in doubt, ask a professional!

4. Certain Areas Need Higher R-Values Than Others

There are different R-value recommendations for different parts of your house, depending on how susceptible they are to heat loss. Sheathing (materials designs to cover house components) tend to have the lowest ratings at R2 to R6. Wall insulation tends to be higher since protection is important for inner walls — R13 to R21 is common. High "cathedral" ceilings adjacent to the outdoors need even more insulation, so those values tend to be around R22 to R60. Finally, attic insulation is particularly important, and values range from R30 to R60.

Not sure how effective your insulation is? Performing an energy audit on your home is the first place to start. If your insulation isn't performing as well as you'd like, contact us at Guaranteed Services today to schedule your free insulation estimate today!