Get the Right Amount of Insulation for Your Home

Here in the Pacific Northwest, we’re used to chilly temperatures and lots of rain. When the temperatures drop and the wind blows, you expect your home to be warm and comfortable. Warm air rises, and lack of insulation can lead to a hot attic but a freezing home. Conditioned air can also escape your home through your roof, windows, doors, and walls. You can minimize this heat loss by ensuring your home has adequate insulation. 

Why Insulation Is Important

Insulation acts as a barrier that keeps conditioned air in your home. It keeps the cold air out during winter and the hot air out in summer. Regardless of what the weather is doing outside your home, insulation helps your indoor air maintain a comfortable, even temperature. New insulation can reduce the length of time it takes to heat or cool your home.

Lack of sufficient insulation will make your furnace run more frequently to maintain a warm, comfortable temperature. In the summer, your air conditioner will run more often to keep your home cool. If you have insufficient insulation, you may notice that your walls are cold. Condensation may form on walls or ceilings, promoting mold and mildew growth. Because temperatures drop at night, you might also notice that your home is especially cold in the morning.

A Home Comfort Assessment

Approximately 90 percent of homes in the United States don’t have enough insulation. If you suspect your home is one of the 90 percent, our team can perform a whole home comfort assessment. A comfort assessment gives you the full picture of airflow in your home. Our building analyst finds your home’s leak points during this comfort assessment. Leak points are spots where you may experience cold drafts in the winter or hot spots in the summer.

After completing this assessment, our building analyst can recommend the right amount and type of insulation for your home. We may recommend replacing or adding insulation in your attic, walls, or floors. We’ll also improve the seals around your ducts, windows, and doors. We make sure to add insulation around leak points to minimize the amount of air escaping your home. After addressing these issues, you’ll likely notice that your heating and cooling system performs more efficiently. 

A Closer Look at Insulation

Many homeowners ask our experts how much insulation they need. The right amount of insulation depends on several factors, including:

Your home’s size

Your home’s layout

Geographic location

The home’s age

Quality and type of building materials

The rating used to measure insulation is the R-value. It measures how well the insulation prevents heat transfer. A higher number means the insulation provides a more effective barrier against heat flow. Loose-fill or blown-in insulation has the lowest R-value per inch. 

Loose-fill fiberglass insulation has an R-value of 3.1 per inch. If you add four inches of this fiberglass insulation to your home, you increase the rating to 12.4. Polyurethane Rigid Panel insulation has an R-value of 7.5 per inch. If you add four inches of rigid panel insulation to your home, the insulation has a total insulation rating of R-30.

Insulating Your Home

Portland, Vancouver, and other parts of the Pacific Northwest are in climate zone 4. The EPA recommends a range of R-values for each climate zone. The recommended range for an uninsulated attic in our climate zone is R-38 to R-60. If you have a few inches of old insulation in your attic, you can install insulation between R-38 and R-49.

Other parts of your home may require different insulation levels. For example, walls may need insulation with an R-value between R-13 and R-21. Your floors may need insulation with an R-value between R-25 and R-30. Our building analysts will recommend fiberglass or other insulation with the appropriate R-value for your home.

Insulating an Older Home

Older types of insulation typically do not meet current standards for energy efficiency. Some houses built before the 1970s had little to no insulation. Homes that did have insulation often used materials like cellulose as insulation. Cellulose insulation was often crafted from newspaper, cardboard, or cotton and was highly flammable.

Older homes may require more insulation to ensure comfort and manageable heating bills. Before the late 1970s to early 1980s, building codes and energy efficiency standards were more relaxed. Due to these relaxed standards, many homes built before the 1980s don’t have enough insulation. Current building codes for Portland homes require a specific R-value for different types. For example, flat ceilings must have insulation with an R-value of 49.

Even if your older home had adequate insulation, this insulation deteriorates over time. General wear and tear affects your insulation’s performance. As insulation ages, the material can compress or settle. Pests like raccoons and squirrels can enter your attic and destroy your insulation. These animals can shred or chew on your insulation. They also leave behind waste that can soak into your insulation. Roof leaks or other water intrusions can damage your insulation and make it less effective. You may need to add or replace all your insulation in these situations.

Your Home’s Construction and Insulation

The type of materials used to construct a home affects the insulation you need. Older homes often have thermal bridges that cause more energy loss. A thermal bridge exists when a break or gap exists in your home’s envelope. Common locations for thermal bridges include around your windows and doors, near wall studs, or around joints. These areas often require more insulation to minimize heat loss.

Newer homes that use materials like metal or concrete suffer more heat loss. Metal has high heat conductivity. Therefore, metal roofs lose more heat than other roof types. You can mitigate this heat loss by installing more insulation.

Some newer homes use materials that can reduce heat transfer. You may need less insulation if your home uses materials like insulated concrete forms (ICFs) or structural insulated panels (SIPs). For example, SIPs have a high R-value, so you can use insulation with a lower value to reach the recommended range.

Renovations or additions to your home also may affect how much insulation you need. If your renovation did not include an insulation upgrade, your home may not meet current building codes. An addition to your home may benefit from more insulation, especially if the room does not connect to your home’s ventilation system.

Your Portland Insulation Experts

At Revival Heating & Cooling, our team members want to ensure you’re comfortable all year round. We take a whole-home approach to your insulation needs. Our experienced team members will assess your Clark County home for thermal bridges and other weak points. After we complete our evaluation, we’ll recommend the right type and amount of insulation. Our services don’t stop at insulation. As your heating and cooling experts, we also offer HVAC installation, repair, and maintenance services.

Contact our team at Revival Heating & Cooling and ask about adding insulation to your Portland home!