How much do you really need to know about insulation? I mean really. You know it goes in the walls, and attic, that there are wraps and that pink stuff and mousse looking blow-in stuff. Well, let me tell you, you are going to get an education today. Insulation is an incredibly important part of your build.
Remember in our last article, your home had the framing, walls, and more installed. What else goes in those walls? Insulation.
When discussing insulation, you need to know two factors, one is called the R-value. The R means resistance. Simply, this is the measurement of that particular insulation’s capacity to resist heat flow from one side to the other. The higher the number the better. The more scientific explanation is; the measure of how much time it takes 1 Btu of energy to pass through a given material. The other factor to consider is the products ability to prevent air movement.
Insulation cannot stop air from coming into your home. Only having your homes sealed can do that. It is the job of insulation to slow the ability of heat to move between two places. Most insulation, however, will not prevent air from sneaking into or out of your home through small cracks or gaps. To get the most out of your insulation your builder can use strategies to air-seal the home. Products like spray foam which can get into the tiniest crevices. How important is it to seal your home? Colorado State University released a paper explaining it all. Click the photo for the PDF.
This depends mostly on the climate where your home is being built. State and local building codes typically include minimum insulation requirements, but your home will most likely exceed those mandates. If you are building a Zero Energy home the insulation will be extreme. The goal of insulation (at least when talking about energy usage) is to be able to heat and cool the home plus run appliances and live day-to-day without breaking the bank. You will look for low heating and cooling costs – especially in the energy efficient homes being built. For example, the Net-Zero homes that are being built by Thrive Home Builders. You can also check out recommendations from the government website Energy.Gov. They have articles on the different types of insulation and recommendations for your area.
Types of Insulation
- Cellulose – Can be installed as a spray in or dry as loose fill that goes behind netting.
- Fiberglass – Can be stuffed into wall cavities without regard for wiring and plumbing already installed. Typically, fiberglass does not have the performance to be used in zero energy homes.
- Radiant Barrier – It is usually installed in attics to reduce summer heat. Made of a highly reflective material that reflects heat back instead of absorbing it.
- Spray Polyurethane Foam – This is usually the insulation of choice for zero energy homes. There are two types of foam. Closed-cell has a higher R-value and is more water resistant. This product actually increases the wall strength by 30% and improves the connection between roof and walls. Open-cell foam expands rapidly and has a lower R-value. It is not water resistant but has a much lower cost than closed-cell.
- Denim – Made from, you guessed it, scraps and clippings from manufacture of denim clothes. It is a good choice for those who like the idea of diverting 200 tons (an estimate from one company) of waste away from landfills each month.
- Cotton Batts – This is a difficult to cut material made of recycled materials. This is also hard to install as it must be fitted in around all existing materials in the wall.
- House Wrap – Don’t think of house wrap as a barrier against air leakage. It’s not. House wrap’s best use is to act as the drainage plane. This helps to keep liquid water from getting building material wet. It stops liquid water from going through into the house, but it allows water vapor to pass out of the house
Whew! There is a lot to know about insulation, air and water barriers, wraps, foam…Good thing your builder is on top of all this. Once the insulation has been completed it is time for complete drywall and the fun stuff, interior finishes!
Keep coming back for the next in our series of articles about building your dream home at Beeler Park. This information brought to you by Tricia Houston and the home experts at Lending Maven Mortgage.
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