No matter where you live your home will be more comfortable and energy efficient with the right insulation. Insulation can help reduce the costs of heating and cooling your home.
To help you save money and get the most of your insulation dollars you should know what to look for and how much insulation is needed for your home.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) suggests that when purchasing insulation, look for the "R-value." "R" means resistance to heat flow. The higher the R-value, the greater the insulation power. The R-value must be disclosed for most insulation products. (Pipe and duct insulation are the exceptions, although duct wrap is covered). For example, if you buy loose-fill insulation with an R-value of 38 from Company A, it will have the same insulating power as loose-fill insulation with an R-value of 38 from Company B. You also can compare the R-value of one type of insulation to another, such as loose-fill to blanket.
Several factors will affect the R-value your home needs:
Where you live - You will need a higher R-value if you live in the Northeast than if you live in Southern California. How your home is built. For example, is it a single-level or multi-level structure? Do you have cathedral ceilings? Is there a basement or is your home built on slab? How you heat and cool your home - Do you have a furnace, a central air conditioner or a heat pump?It is more efficient to use insulation with higher R-values in the attic and in rooms with cathedral ceilings than in wood frame walls and basements or crawl spaces with walls. For help in determining what R-values your home needs, contact the Department of Energy's Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Network (EREN), which is a clearinghouse of energy-efficiency information. You can contact the EREN online at www.eren.doe.gov; or call toll-free at 1.800.363.3732. You can also contact your state energy office, local building department, or your gas or electric company. They can tell you how to conduct an energy audit to help detect waste and gauge the efficiency of your current heating system. Your utility company may offer free or low-cost energy audits, or you can conduct your own.
How do you know what R-value you are getting? The FTC is responsible for enforcing the R-value Rule. The Rule ensures that you get information about the R-value of your insulation before you buy it, have it installed, or buy a new home. Manufacturers must label their packages of insulation; installers and retailers must provide fact sheets; and new home sellers must include this information in sales contracts.