Attic Insulation R-Value: The Un-Handyman's Guide

You can judge the quality of attic insulation based on its R-value, but what the heck is attic insulation's r-value? Here is a guide for the non-handyman.

So you know you need to properly insulate your attic space, but now there are many decisions to make.

What type of home insulation? How much insulation do I need? What is the ideal attic insulation R-value? Wait, what does R-value mean again?

Researching strategies to enhance the insulation in attics is a worthy investment of time, and the best place to begin is by learning about R-values for insulation. 

What Does R-Value Mean?

You use the R-value when determining the amount of insulation your house requires. The R in R-value means resistance and is used to quantify the heat resistance of insulation materials.

The R-value measures a material's resistance to heat flow, with higher insulation R-values indicating more resistance. Temperature differences cause energy to move from hot to cold in an effort to find a stable temperature balance.

This indicates that your home's heat attempts to escape throughout the winter. You may use less energy to keep your house warm if you increase the levels of insulation. Energy efficiency, decreased heat loss, and lower utility expenses are a consequence of this.

In warmer climates, the outside air can easily heat your house. Proper insulation on your home's floors, exterior walls, crawl spaces, and particularly in the attic is vital to keep cooling expenses and heat transfer at a minimum.

You'll need to figure out where to put insulation in your house since various sections need different R-values. Because heat naturally rises and exits via your attic, the attic requires greater than a wall insulation R-value.

Then, when you've determined your zone (more of this below) and where you will place your insulation, look at your alternatives and the many kinds of insulation available to you.

Even though there's a lot to take in, you won't be doing this alone. What R-value for the attic insulation, the correct quantity of insulation, and more may all be explained to you by a certified attic specialist.

What Is Your Climate?

Depending on the climate zone, the US Department of Energy has recommended R-values for different types of insulation. 

The United States Department of Energy maintains an insulation R-value chart that illustrates the suggested R-value range for each area of the nation. For example, homeowners in the southern United States can begin insulating their attic using materials that have R-values in the R30 to R60 range and R13 to R19 insulation ratings for the floors.

Attic insulation should be R49-R60, while floor insulation should be R25-R30 for those in the north of the United States. Insulation material with a minimum R-value can be an option if you're only installing more on top of the insulation installed.

Many of us might benefit from adding insulation to our homes, even if it isn't at the top of our to-do lists. Most American houses have inadequate insulation, according to the Department of Energy (DOE). It is possible to save ten percent annually on energy costs by adding adequate R-value insulation and sealing air leaks throughout the house.

Certified attic specialists can give general guidance on determining how much insulation you need depending on factors like the size of your home, the kind of heating and cooling systems you have, and where you reside.

Best Options For Your Attic Insulation

For each use, there is a certain kind of insulation that is more appropriate than another. The most prevalent forms of insulation are listed here in R-values.

  1. Blown-in fiberglass - What insulation to use for walls? Blown-in or loose-fill fiberglass insulation is excellent for houses requiring additional insulation since it is blown loosely into the attic space and securely into the attic walls. In terms of R-value, it ranges from 2.2 to 4.3 per inch, depending on the density of the material.
  2. Fiberglass batts - Certified attic specialists install them on wall studs before applying the final surfaces to new homes giving excellent insulation and air sealing performance. Between 3.1 and 3.4 R-value per inch is typical for fiberglass batts. A fantastic alternative to fiberglass batt insulation is rigid foam board.
  3. Spray foam - Applying spray foam fills in the gaps and any holes or cavities. The insulation and air sealing performance of spray foam insulation are more remarkable when used in new construction, but certified attic specialists may also use them during a major remodeling project. In open-cell spray foam installations, the typical R-value ranges from 3.5 to 3.6; in closed-cell spray foam installations, the average ranges from 6.0 to 6.5.
  4. Cellulose - When blown into walls and used as ceiling insulation, cellulose insulation provides additional insulation without requiring major renovations. Cellulose wall and ceiling insulation R-values are 3.2 to 3.9, depending on how densely it is packed after installation, providing good insulation and air sealing efficiency.

Final Thoughts

Using a higher R-Value as the sole criterion for good insulation is not a good idea. There are several elements to consider when deciding on the best insulation for your attic and house, including its age, location, and construction materials. Another issue to consider is the installation cost and the number of people living in your home. You can rely on certified attic specialists for any form of insulation installation, no matter how complex.

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