Insulation is just about the absolute last thing you will ever think about when it comes to the function and efficiency of your house. But it shouldn’t be. There’s a lot at stake where insulation is involved. For instance, did you know that proper insulation saves air from escaping your house and running rampant in the wild? Well, it does. Here are a few more fun facts discussed about the most interesting home investment topic: insulation.
What Matters About Insulation?
Well, if it’s time to replace your insulation, or you’re building from the ground up and need to make this decision anyway, you want to look at the R and U – values of each material. What are those, you ask? Excellent question. The R-value is a method of measuring how well a material resists heat. The U-value is the measurement of heat transfer in a particular material.
The higher the R-value, the better the material is at insulating your home. The lower the U-value, the better able the material is at insulating your home.
R-values differ between the different parts of your home, too. Insulation is installed in the walls, crawlspaces, and attics. The needs of those areas are quite different though. Since the space between your walls is substantially smaller than the space in your attic you’ll need a higher R-value for the latter. It’s recommended that walls aim for the range of R13 and R23. For an attic or crawlspace, you’ll need a range of R30 – R49.
Does Climate Matter?
Actually, yeah. It does. Some places experience higher humidity more frequently throughout the year than others. Places like Florida and southern Texas record a high number of high humidity days, they’re also very exposed to hurricanes and the damage they cause. In areas like these, it’s best to avoid insulations like cellulose that are unable to manage moisture and therein more prone to mold.
A Bit Of History
The earliest forms of insulation were simple and are still available today. Dirt! Yes, dirt was turned to mud, mixed with straw and used between the walls of Medieval homes to keep the home at a more comfortable temperature. We’ve come a long way since then. But unsurprisingly, the more natural the material, the better it is at both insulating and affecting the environment.
While the biggest improvement was made in the 1970s when health experts determined that the commonly used material asbestos was causing major lung problems in people who lived with it in their home, the next best thing that took its place was better, but not exactly perfect. Fiberglass insulation has a lot of benefits. But you have to take great care in handling it or you’re likely to wind up with… lung issues. The tiny shards of glass that comprise fiberglass insulation are easy to inhale, so always work with a mask when removing or installing this pink fluff.
Insulation has quite the history and technology and science are working together to only improve upon this magnificent home feature. Without it, your home would likely lose 60% of its heating and air. With it, you can save money and energy – and given the right choice in material, leave a minimal impact on the environment.