No matter how good your HVAC system is, it can’t perform at its peak efficiency if your home insulation is less than it should be. Insulation helps seal up your home’s envelope so there’s less heat flowing out in winter and less coming in during the summer. Here’s a primer on home insulation to help you understand how it works.
Heat flows from warmer to cooler places, and it does so in one of three ways: by conduction, or through materials such as walls; by convection, through liquids and gases; and by radiation, the way sunlight passes through a window and raises the temperature inside a room. Insulation in your walls slows conductive heat flow, and to a lesser degree, convective heat flow. Radiant barriers, often installed in attics, reduce heat gain from radiation.
Insulation is measured by its thermal resistance or R-value. The higher the number, the more effective it is. R-value is calculated by thickness, density and type of insulation. Contractors use an insulation calculator to determine how much is needed in a particular climate, figuring in the type of heating and cooling system, and where the insulation is to be installed. In a colder climate such as ours, a greater R-value is preferred.
Insulation is available in batts or rolls (fiberglass, mineral wool or natural fibers), as foam board or rigid foam, as loose fill and blown-in (cellulose, fiberglass and mineral wool) and as reflective material (foil-faced paper, cardboard or plastic films). The type you choose will be determined by where you want to install it and whether you’re seeking to reflect heat, or resist conductive or convective flow. Typically insulation is installed in walls, the attic, above the ceiling in unheated spaces, and around ductwork.
For more on home insulation and other efficient upgrades, call Tempco Heating and Air Conditioning at (847) 670-7000, or check out our air conditioning solutions.