Insulation adds to the overall comfort and energy-efficiency of your home. How well it does its job depends largely on its r-value. Almost everyone has a basic idea of how insulation works. You place it in empty spaces between the walls to prevent air from passing through. It’s the mechanisms behind this that make it a little more complex.
Understanding Convection, Conduction, and Radiation
Convection, conduction, and radiation are the three basic mechanisms of heat flow.
- Convection – refers to the circulation of heat through liquids and gases. It explains why warm air rises while cooler air remains low in your home.
- 2. Conduction – describes the way heat moves through solid objects.
- Radiation – radiant heat always travels in a straight line. It heats solid objects along the way that are capable of absorbing its energy.
Most insulation materials are designed to slow conductive heat flow. It also slows convective heat flow, although to a lesser extent. You can also buy radiant barriers or reflective insulation that reduce radiant heat absorption by reflecting heat away instead of absorbing it.
In any setting, heat will flow from the warmer area to one that is cooler until it reaches the same temperature. In your home, that means that heated air inside will flow into adjacent areas that are cooler such as garages, basements, attics, and outdoors. This is why an insulated garage door can help make your entire home more comfortable and fuel-efficient. During the summer when air is cooled indoors, heat comes into your home. Insulation can be used to keep warm air indoors or outdoors.
What Is an R-Value?
R-value is the measurement of an insulating material’s thermal resistance, or ability to resist heat flow. The higher the R-value, the better it is at insulating. The R-value is assigned based on a number of factors including the type of material it is, the thickness, and its density. Some types of insulation have R-values based on temperature, moisture accumulation, and aging. Insulation that is made from layers of various materials are rated according to the R-values of each individual layer.
Choosing Insulation for Your House
The more insulation you install in your home, the greater the R-value will be. Not all homes require the same degree of insulation. You need to consider the climate where you live, the type of heating and cooling used, and which areas you need to insulate.
Types of Insulation
There are many types of insulation on the market for you to choose from. You’ll need to know where you want to install the insulation and the R-value before you choose insulation. The proper installation makes a huge difference in whether the insulation performs to its R-Value. Some are suitable as DIY projects while you need to hire professionals to install others. The basic types of insulation are:
- Blanket: Batts & Rolls – Made from mineral wool, plastic, or natural fibers and used in unfinished walls, floors, and ceilings.
- Concrete Block Insulation – Includes foam board place on the outside of walls in new construction and on the inside of walls of existing homes. Good for unfinished walls and foundation walls.
- Foam Board (Rigid Foam)– Made from polystyrene, polyisocyanurate, or polyurethane. Used in unfinished walls, floors and ceilings, and unvented low-slope roofs.
- Insulating Concrete Forms (ICFs)– Foam boards or blocks used in unfinished walls for new construction.
- Loose–Fill and Blown-In – Made from fiberglass, cellulose, or mineral wool. Used in enclosed existing or new wall cavities, unfinished attic floors, hard-to-reach areas.
- Reflective System– This includes foil-faced kraft paper, polyethylene bubbles, plastic film, or cardboard. Used in unfinished walls, ceilings, and floors. A reflective system really doesn’t have an R-value due to the way it reflects heat flow instead of absorbing it.
- Rigid Fibrous or Fiber Insulation– Made of fiberglass or mineral wool. Used in ducts of unconditioned spaces and other places where insulation is needed to withstand high temperatures.
- Sprayed Foam and Foamed-In-Place – Materials include cementitious, phenolic, polyisocyanurate, and polyurethane. Used in enclosed existing walls, open new wall cavities, and unfinished attic floors.
- Structural Insulated Panels (SIPs)– Made of foam board or liquid, foam insulation core, and straw core insulation. Used in unfinished walls, floors, ceilings, and roofs for new construction.
Of these types, blanket insulation is the most commonly used type of insulation, most often in fiberglass. This type of insulation comes in widths that are suited for use in walls and attics, making self-application easier. When using insulation with a lower R-value than needed, this type of insulation can be used in more than one layer.
Draft-Proof Windows and Doors
Insulating your home starts with selecting the right insulation for all the empty spaces where air gets in or out. Draft-proofing all of your doors and windows helps even more. Weather stripping is an inexpensive and easy way to block drafts around windows and doors. Don’t overlook places like pipes that lead outside or old door sweeps.
Garage doors are frequently overlooked when considering the overall energy-efficiency of a home. The fact is that it’s often the largest opening to the home. Whether your garage is heated or not, an insulated door can help stop the transfer of air between your home and the outdoors. There are some beautiful choices in insulated garage doors available today. They also come in a range of R-values, typically between R-8 and R-32.
If your garage door still has some life left in it, another option is to insulate your door. A simple DIY project could result in a more comfortable home and significant savings on your energy bill. If your door is outdated and in need of repair, it might be time to start shopping for an energy-efficient replacement.
Contact Coastal Garage Doors to get a free estimate and get an honest quote for a new insulated garage door. There’s a lot to love about insulated doors including greater durability, quieter operation, and better protection for your car. A warmer garage is more convenient and comfortable, even if you’re just passing through!