How Much Insulation Do You Really Need?

Are you building a new home? If so, it’s the perfect opportunity to install the right amount of insulation right off the bat, thereby saving yourself time, trouble, energy, and money in the future. Here, you’ll learn how much insulation you really need in different parts of your home to keep things comfortable and efficient – even if you want to add insulation to your existing home.

What Is Insulation?

Insulation acts as a barrier between your home and the outside air. It’s main function is to reduce the transfer of heat. The most common insulation type is the pink fiberglass that comes in rolls. It’s placed between wall studs, in attics, and even in floor joists in some places. It’s affordable, and it certainly does the job if it’s applied at the correct thickness. Other insulation types include  loose-fill, rigid foam, and foam-in-place insulation. Each one has its own unique set of benefits, and some are more cost-effective than others.

A Little about Insulation Types

Before you can decide how much insulation you need, you first need to consider the insulation type and where you’ll be installing it. This handy chart will help you make the right choices.

  • Fiberglass (or rock wool) roll insulation – This is the most popular type of insulation found in homes across the country. They come in standard widths, too. Larger wall stud spaces require a higher R-value, too, and the products are designed to provide it.
  • Loose-fill insulation – This type of insulation is ideal for existing homes because it can be “blown” into spaces via small, easily repaired holes in walls. It’s made of rock wool, fiberglass, cellulose, or even recycled materials. It conforms nicely to its surroundings, which makes it preferable over fiberglass batts or rolls in some areas.
  • Rigid foam insulation – Rigid foam is typically found on the outside of the walls, just under the siding, masonry, or stone. It’s more expensive than fiber, but it’s great for small buildings and areas where large R-values are required.
  • Foam-in-place – This kind of insulation is injected directly into the walls of an existing home. It can improve energy efficiency by plugging air leaks.

R-Value Recommendations

The amount of insulation you need is based on your climate zone, and in Florida, the climate is in Zone 4. Here, you’ll need to insulate various areas of your home as follows:

  • Attic – R-38
  • Cathedral – R-38
  • Walls – R-13 (you’ll need to calculate this based on the thickness of the insulation)
  • Floors – R-13
  • Crawlspaces – R-13 (only insulate crawlspace walls if the crawlspace is sealed and dry all year)
  • Slab Edges – R-4
  • Basement Interior – R-11
  • Basement Exterior – R-4

These numbers indicate the amount of insulation required in new Florida homes to help provide the best possible energy efficiency and cooling power. While it’s difficult to add too much insulation, it’s certainly possible to add too little. Make sure you take these numbers into consideration, and remember that many of these spaces can be filled with loose-fill insulation if your R-values are lower than those recommended here.

Whether you’re building a new home or you think your current home is under-insulated, learning how much insulation to install will help you keep your home more comfortable and reduce your energy bills all year long. The best part is that new technologies make it simple to add insulation to existing homes, regardless of their age.

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