Consider Your Insulation Options

Posted On: April 04, 2014

There are several insulation products that can be used to improve the insulation of your home and reduce energy costs. The installation method is dictated by the insulation type.

The effectiveness of insulation is measured by its thermal insulation or R value, normally shown as a value per inch of thickness; the higher the value the better the insulation.

Insulation Type You can Install

Blankets and Batts: Supplied in rolls or batts, these are good for ceiling, floor, and wall insulation.

  • Rock wool (R-5) is the easiest to install, but is more expensive and may be difficult to find. It loses its insulation qualities when wet.
  • Fiberglass (R-4) is readily available, but is unpleasant to install due to irritation of the skin. It will be less effective if compressed.
  • Natural and synthetic fibers are good (R-4), but not always available.

Loose Fill: Supplied as fluffy light material.

  • Fiberglass (R-2.7) is used where access is easy for ceilings or nooks and crannies. It is very light and is best covered by a blanket.

Spray Foam: Supplied in small spray cans.

  • Open cell polyurethane (R-4) used for filling cavities. It is not waterproof and needs a moisture barrier or it deteriorates.

Insulation Products That are Difficult to Apply

These insulation types are generally applied by a contractor using specialized application equipment.

Loose Fill: Blown into place using specialized equipment.

  • Fiberglass (R-2.7) mainly for ceilings
  • Cellulose (R-3.8) is heavier than fiberglass and is used for wall cavities and ceilings. If compacted it will lose 20 percent of its effectiveness.

Structural Insulating Panels: These panels are used when replacing siding and roofs and have good insulating qualities.

  • Polystyrene panels have insulation values of R-4 (expanded polystyrene) and R-5 (extruded). They are lightweight and have very little strength.
  • Polyisocyanurate panels have a high insulation value (R7.7) but need a moisture barrier.

Spray Foam: Applied with specialized equipment for walls, floor, and attics.

Further Advice

If you need help to upgrade insulation in your home contact Ernst Heating and Cooling on 618-633-2244. They cover the southwestern Illinois area including Alton, Edwardsville, Highland, Greenville, Collinsville, and Staunton.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in Hamel, Alton, Glen Carbon, Highland, Greenville, and Troy, Illinois and surrounding areas about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems). For more information about insulation and other HVAC topics, download our free Home Comfort Resource guide.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock

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