Thinking of insulating your home? Wondering what you should know before you begin?

Here’s a quick primer on understanding how insulation works.

We Know: 5 Things to Know About Home Insulation

1. What’s the benefit of insulating my home?

Insulation can help reduce the cost of your heating and cooling bills by preventing the flow of heat into your house in the summer time and reducing the flow of heat out of your home in the winter time. In short, you can save money.

2. What’s the most important thing to know about insulation?

Its "R-value." The R-value of an insulation product gages the resistance the insulation has to the flow of heat. The higher the R-value, the better the product will resist heat flow. R-values are standardized, so you can compare different brands and types of insulation, and still know their relative ability to resist heat flow.

3. What are some examples of types of insulation and their R-values?

Insulation typeR-value per inch of thickness
Fiber glass blanket or batt2.9 to 3.8 (use 3.2)
High performance fiber glass blanket or batt3.7 to 4.3 (use 3.8)
Loose-fill fiber glass2.3 to 2.7 (use 2.5)
Loose-fill rock wool2.7 to 3.0 (use 2.8)
Loose-fill cellulose3.4 to 3.7 (use 3.5)
Perlite or vermiculite2.4 to 3.7 (use 2.7)
Expanded polystyrene board3.6 to 4 (use 3.8)
Extruded polystyrene board4.5 to 5 (use 4.8)
Polyisocyanurate board, unfaced5.6 to 6.3 (use 5.8)
Polyisocyanurate board, foil-faced7
Spray polyurethane foam5.6 to 6.3 (use 5.9)

4. How can I be sure the R-value of an insulation is accurate?

Insulation R-values are regulated by the Federal Trade Commission. Manufacturers must label their insulation packages, installers and stores must provide you with fact sheets, and new home sellers must include R-value information in their sales contracts.

5. Do I insulate every room in the house with the same insulation?

In general, insulate attics and rooms with cathedral ceilings with higher R-value insulation, and wood frame walls, basements and crawls spaces with lesser R-values. Ask the folks at the store to help you determine which insulation will work best in which rooms. Sometimes your local utility company will provide you with a free or low-cost energy audit and help you determine the best kind of insulation.

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