What is Insulation R Value? Why is it Important?
The purpose of insulation may seem rather obvious at first glance. Most people would say a home is insulated to prevent heat from escaping during the winter. While this is true, insulation is also tasked with keeping hot air from getting into a home during the summer months. The better this “barrier” performs, the less often you need to run your furnace or air conditioner. This, of course, corresponds to a lower utility bill.
How do you know if your insulation is sufficient? The key is being able to measure the rate at which heat moves through your insulation.
Insulation is rated by its R value, determined by a specific mathematical formula. The technical definition involves heat flux, which is the “heat transfer rate per unit of area over a unit of time.” Essentially, insulation R value describes the insulation’s thermal resistance; that is, how well it resists the passage of heat. Insulation with an R value of 3 will allow heat to transfer much more quickly, for example, than a product with an insulation R value of 8.
San Diego is considered a warm climate city, although few can predict the temperatures we experience during any given winter. Since we live in a “warm” city, most homeowners are surprised to learn that one of the reasons their utility bills are so high is that their homes are insufficiently insulated.
How can this be? The problem can be blamed on homebuilders. Developers build homes to make a profit. To maximize their profit, they look for areas where they can trim costs. Insulation is one of those areas where corners are often cut in the San Diego area. After all, who is going to get cold in San Diego, right?
While you may not need much insulation on the balmy 75 degree winter days we sometimes experience, the situation changes when the sun goes down and temperatures drop dramatically. If some homes in San Diego were viewed through a thermal imager at night, the amount of heat escaping from the roof area would be dramatic.
Check Your Insulation
How do you know if your attic and home are properly insulated? There are two simple steps you can take.
First, climb into your attic, look at the insulation on the floors and walls, and find the insulation R value on the label. Your insulation should have a minimum rating of 19. If it is less than 19, you need an upgrade. Keep in mind that figure is a minimum. By moving up to insulation with a 38 rating, you can save up to 40 percent on your heating and cooling bill every month for the life of your home.
The second issue to consider is the amount of insulation in the attic. A way to do this is to look at the floor joists. Can you see gaps in the insulation showing the surface underneath? Can you see the top of the floor joists running down the attic? Either condition is indicative of an insufficientamount of insulation. Proper insulation should cover the floor joists without any gaps. This creates a solid thermal envelope that keeps the escape of warm air through your ceiling to a minimum.
At the end of the day, upgrading the amount of insulation, and the R value of the insulation in your home, is an effective means for slashing your utility bill. If you are tired of paying high heating costs in the winter and cooling costs in the summer, contact us today to learn more.
Our experienced technicians will provide a free written recommendation detailing the proper actions needed to restore your home to a safe and healthy environment. When you need attic cleanup, crawl space cleanup, rodent proofing, decontamination, insulation removal or insulation replacement in San Diego call Attic Construction Inc at 858-609-8118.