IN­SU­LA­TION & Ra­di­ant Bar­ri­ers

Old House Journal - - Ohj -

No mat­ter where you live, a well-in­su­lated house will be more com­fort­able, whether the out­side tem­per­a­ture is 9° F or 90° F.

In­su­la­tion helps bal­ance the need for ad­di­tional heat­ing or cool­ing dur­ing weather ex­tremes. The higher the R–value of the in­su­la­tion, the greater its ef­fec­tive­ness. The Depart­ment of En­ergy pub­lishes a guide to rec­om­mended in­su­la­tion lev­els by lo­ca­tion based on R-val­ues, avail­able on­line at en­er­gys­tar.gov. In­stalling more in­su­la­tion in your home usu­ally in­creases the R-value and the re­sis­tance to heat flow. With retrofits, how­ever, this value can be af­fected by tem­per­a­ture, aging, mois­ture ac­cu­mu­la­tion, and the set­tled den­sity of the in­su­la­tion, so it’s im­por­tant to take those fac­tors into con­sid­er­a­tion when in­stalling ad­di­tional ma­te­rial.

If the house is in a par­tic­u­larly hot cli­mate—Zones 1, 2, or 3, for in­stance—in­stalling a ra­di­ant bar­rier is key to im­prov­ing over­all com­fort, no mat­ter how much in­su­la­tion is in place. Although ra­di­ant bar­ri­ers have no R value, these highly re­flec­tive ma­te­ri­als re-emit ra­di­ant heat rather than ab­sorb­ing it, re­duc­ing cool­ing loads.

RIGHT Rec­om­mended in­su­la­tion lev­els are iden­ti­fied by zone for the en­tire coun­try; the higher the num­ber, the greater the amount of in­su­la­tion needed to achieve de­sired R-value.

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