What Kind of Insulation Should I Buy?

Insulation is an important part of your home’s overall energy efficiency. It keeps your family warm in the winter and cool in the summer, by keeping the outside temperatures out of your home and the climate created by your HVAC system inside.


Insulation also makes your HVAC system more efficient by keeping your system from working harder than necessary. Understanding the differences between different types of insulation can keep your family comfortable and save you money.


What kind should you buy?


The ability for insulation to transfer heat is measured by R-value. These values are based on the density of the insulation’s material, its thickness and the type of insulation being measured. The higher the R-value, the better it insulates your home.


1.) Fiberglass rolls and batts


fiberglass-rollWhat Is It? Fiberglass rolls and batts are sections of insulation that are pre-measured and pre-cut. Batts are fiberglass or rock wool sections made to fit between standard wall and floor frames. Rolls are similar, but instead of being cut to fit inside framing, they are sold in rolls for larger spaces.

Best for insulating: Both rolls and batts are best suited for floors, ceilings, walls and attics.

R Value: They are often found with R-values between R-11 and R-38 depending on the insulation’s thickness. (For reference sakes, the R-value comes out to an estimated R-3.1 per inch of thickness, although it will vary depending on the thickness you are purchasing.)



2.) Spray foam 

fiberglass-sprayWhat Is It? Spray foam is made of polyurethane or latex, and is sprayed into gaps to seal air in. It is usually found with an R-value between R-3.5 and R-3.6 per inch of thickness, which makes it ideal for use around vents, doors, windows, electrical and plumbing gaps. It can be purchased by the can for spot treatment or applied to larger areas using special equipment.

Best for insulating: Spray foam is ideal to use around vents, doors, windows, electrical and plumbing gaps.

R Value: Spray foam has an R-value between R-3.5 and R-3.6 per inch of thickness.



3.) Foam panels

foam-panelsWhat is it? Foam panels are usually made of polyurethane or polystyrene and can be used to insulate many different parts of your home. They can range in thickness from half an inch to two inches or more, depending on the required R-value you need to insulate your area. With R-values of R-3.6 to R-8 per inch of thickness, foam panels insulate better than other materials of the same thickness.

Best for insulating: Panels should be used in exterior walls and interior basement walls.

R Value: They have R-values between R-3.6 to R-8 per inch of thickness.



4.) Blown-in or loose fill

blow-in-insulationWhat is it? Blown in or loose fill nsulation is typically made of fiberglass or cellulose, which is made from recycled or treated paper. Special equipment blows the insulation into hard-to-reach places, making it ideal for odd-shaped wall cavities and places with many wires, pipes, and ducts.

Best for insulating: Loose fill insulation is ideal for odd-shaped wall cavities and places with many wires, pipes, and ducts.

R Value: If made of fiberglass, loose fill can have R-values of R-2.3 to R-2.7 per inch of depth. If made of cellulose (recycled or treated paper), R-values range from R-3.4 to 3.7 per inch of depth.



Now that you understand what type of insulation is out there and where you should apply it, you are one step closer to increasing your home’s energy efficiency and saving your family money.