How to Use R-values to determine the Right Amount of Insulation for your Bay Area Home

If you want to maximize your home’s efficiency and comfort levels, it’s important to have the proper amount of insulation. But how are you supposed to know how much insulation you should have in your home? The answer can be found by looking at insulation R-values.

What is the R-value of insulation?

Every piece of insulation is given an R-value to describe how effective it is at restricting heat flow. The “R” in R-value stands for “resistance.” The higher the R-value of insulation, the more capable it is of resisting heat flow.

The R-value of a given piece of insulation will depend on the material it’s made of, its thickness and its density.

How to determine proper R-values when insulating your home

OK, so now that we know what R-values are, how can we use them to know how much insulation is needed in our homes? The recommended R-values for your home will depend on where you live, whattype of HVAC system you have and where in your home you are adding the insulation.

The Department of Energy offers a few different tools online to make it easy to determine what R-values are best for different parts of your home. By looking at the map here, you can compare how the Bay Area’s recommended R-values (Zone 3) compare to the rest of the country. To get more detailed recommendations, use the Department of Energy’s insulation calculator. For San Francisco, recommended insulation R-values in an existing home are as follows:

  • Attic: 38
  • Wood frame wall cavity: 13
  • Floor: 13
  • Crawl space wall: 13
  • Basement wall interior: 11

Proper installation is the key to maximizing R-value

It’s important to note that proper installation is crucial in order to ensure that your insulation reaches its listed R-value. For that reason, adding insulation is typically a job that’s best left to a trusted contractorrather than taking it on as a do-it-yourself project.

If you have any questions about the R-value of insulation, or if you’d like a cooling system serviced or installed in your home, contact Cabrillo, your Bay Area plumbing, heating and air conditioning company.