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Published: January 23, 2017

What Insulation R-Values Mean

What is an R value?

We get this question a lot. “What is an R value? What does R mean?” 

It all has to do with the depth of your insulation. Simply put, the R-value of insulation is its resistance to heat, either escaping your house or coming into your house. The higher the R-value, the more resistance to heat your insulation has. 

How much insulation does my home need?

The greater the R-value of the insulation in your home, the more energy efficient your house can be. This goes for the insulation in your walls, your attic, and sometimes even underneath your house and around pipes. There are certain R-value standards your house has to meet to be up to code and to be up to EnergyStar standards. 

For the last several years the R value for a new home has been R-30. Depending on the type of material, R-30 insulation might be 10 inches thick for a certain type of fiberglass, or 12 inches thick for a cellulose insulation. R-30 was the code for a really long time, but recently the Department of Energy changed the code so that the standard is now R-38. 

We've always sold insulation to R-38 standards. That’s always been our EnergyStar package level. With the material we use, that’s normally about 14 inches of insulation. If you were to build a new house today, you would be required to have R-38, or about 14 inches, of insulation in the attic. It’s typically R-13 or R-19 in the exterior walls. 

Why Consistency is Key:

But if you’ve seen some of our other posts, you’ll know that we believe that consistency of insulation is more important than depth of insulation! If you have R-13 but it’s consistent all the way across the attic, in our opinion that performs better than R-30 in one spot and then thinner insulation in another spot, leaving you with inconsistent R values. 

So remember, the R value is all about resistance to heat. You want a very consistent level. Depending on where you live and what the codes are, you might have a different requirement. We can come in and assess what your current R-value is, and get your current insulation leveled out and put a layer on top to give you good, consistent insulation! 

Do you need to add insulation to your attic?

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