• Insulating to Keep Comfortable: What Is R-Value?

    June 29, 2015 | Blog
  • We all want our indoor climates to be comfortable in any season—often fighting a battle against the weather and temperature that’s outdoors! When it’s cold out, we want indoor warmth, and when the summer sun blazes, we want a cool oasis inside.


    Various building materials either conduct or resist. This is critical in moving not only electricity, water, and air throughout your home, but heat as well. R-Value represents a measurement of how well an insulating material resists the transfer of heat from inside to outside or vice versa. Materials with higher R-Values are more resistant, and therefore better insulators. For a more energy-efficient home (and lower electric or gas cooling and heating bills), choose the highest R-Value you can afford, and which your building construction (or renovation) can accommodate.

    Insulation Considerations

    When choosing insulation materials and techniques for your home (or business), it’s important to consider:

    • Is this new or existing construction?
    • What are the temperature extremes of the climate?
    • What is the depth of the walls?
    • What types of heating or cooling systems are in use?
    • How much can you afford?

    Insulation is readily available in two primary types: fiber (including fiberglass, cellulose, or rock wool), or foam. Fiber materials are either rolled or in blanket-like batts, or can be blown as loose pellets into irregular building cavities. Foams are available in rigid “boards” or are sprayed in place. Foam can be up to twice as insulating per inch of thickness than fiber insulation, but can also cost significantly more. Depending on your needs and budget, a combination of materials and installation methods may be the best approach.

    Should I Insulate My Garage?

    To keep cool in summer and warm in winter, primary living spaces are the usual priority, but what about the garage? Again, there are a number of considerations:

    Do you use your garage as a living space?

    Is the garage your workshop? Band rehearsal studio? Block-party gathering space? If you spend a lot of time in the garage, insulation will not only make it more comfortable, but more economical, as you save energy!

    How extreme is your climate?

    Do you spend a lot of time in a garage that can be frigid in winter and steamy in summer? Is it sheltered or does it bear the brunt of incoming storms and breezes (or even high winds)? Again, if your garage is a living space, it’s worth some insulation, but you might not have as much work or expense if temperatures don’t vary significantly throughout the year.

    Is your garage door insulated?

    Any system is only as effective as its weakest link. If your garage door is heavy duty and fully insulated (with its own R-Value), but your garage walls or ceiling are not, then you won’t get much benefit from that high-end door’s energy efficiency. Likewise, an insulated garage with a simple non-insulated steel door is going to leak climate-controlled air almost as if the door were left open. Match the door and the building insulation both to how you use the garage and to each other. An insulated garage needs an insulated door, and an insulated door is most effective on an insulated garage.

    What “R” You Waiting For?

    An energy-efficient home (or business) is comfortable, inviting, and less of a burden on the wallet! For most homeowners, considering R-Value is related to repairs or renovations. That can be a huge undertaking, but increasing R-Value (and reducing the loss of cooled or heated air) is an immediate improvement to the quality of your living space and your outgoing expenses. So what “R” you waiting for?