The average American consumer will immediately think about R-value of insulation when they are comparing different products. The truth is that the R-value is actually a fairly incomplete number.
R-value is an important measurement, as we’ll define below, but it’s the not the only measurement of quality insulation. R-value is only one aspect of insulation.
Others that we’ll discuss are as follows—airtight seal, mold and mildew protection, energy-efficiency and soundproofing.
What is R-Value?
R-value is a measure of thermal resistance. It’s a measurement of how effectively a certain material can resist conductive heat transfer.
A loose or porous material will have a low R-value, while a strong and durable material will have a high R-value. A lower R-value means the material allows for heat transfer more easily, while a higher R-value means a material is more resistant to heat transfer.
R-value is the reciprocal of U-factor (also known as U-value). U-factor is a unit of measurement describing how well a certain material conducts heat, while R-value is a measurement of how well a certain material resists heat conduction.
Average R-Value of Common Insulation Types Per Inch of Insulation
When it comes to insulation, different materials have significantly different R-values. R-value is typically given in units per inch of insulation. Below, you can find R-values for common types of insulation
Pink Fiberglass Batting: 2.5
Rock Wool Batting: 3
Insulated Concrete Forms (ICF): 3.5
Blow-In Cellulose: 3.5
1/2 lb. Open Cell Spray Foam: 3.5
Rigid Polystyrene Panels: 3.9
2 lb Closed Cell Spray Foam: 6.9
As you can see, R-value varies widely between materials. Pink fiberglass batting is easily the worst for insulation, but it’s also the cheapest and easiest form of insulation. At the other end of the spectrum, 2-pound closed cell spray foam has nearly double the R-value of its closest competitor.
Some builders will add piece after piece of fiberglass batting to create a higher R-value and then sell it to consumers with the “higher R-value pitch.” While they aren’t lying, they aren’t telling the whole truth.
How is R-Value Tested?
The most widely used test to determine R-value is the American Society for Testing and Materials test. Unfortunately, due to the way the test was designed, there is a major flaw that favors fiber insulations. Not much actual input was put into the test when they were designing it for solid insulations.
The test was designed for unrealistic conditions. You do not get a realistic idea of R-value when it is tested with zero wind and zero moisture added. Small amounts of moisture or vapor can dramatically change insulations R Value by as much as fifty percent.
What Is the Whole Truth About R-Value?
You will never be able to define the performance and success of an insulation installation simply with a single number. There are many more details that must be known before making any assumptions.
Why does the insulation industry allow the R-value fairy tale to continually perpetuate? We have no idea. The one thing that we are sure of is that if you look at R-value, then you will see that it favors the installation of fiber insulation.
Packing more batting in one area doesn’t take into consideration air movement. Fiberglass batting may reduce thermal transfer, but what about those drafts? What about air moving in and out of your home? If air is transferring in and out, then the temperature of your home is also fluctuating, causing your central air system to work too hard.
At that point energy is being consumed and wasted. Your insulation isn’t truly working well for you and you’re letting harmful outside air in your home. Why is the air harmful?
Changing air and temperatures can lead to mold and mildew development, which affects your health and the health of any other inhabitants of the home or building. Mold and mildew are also damaging agents and will wear your house down, reducing its overall value and structural soundness.
We believe that R-value numbers are very misleading. If you consider how insulation reacts after it has been submerged in water or how it reacts when there are 20- mile per hour wind gusts outside, then you might find different results.In fact, in either of these situations, the R-value of the insulation goes to zero. Solid insulations are barely affected by these conditions. Reasons like this lead us to believe that the R-value number of insulation is actually a misleading, worthless number until we know more details about the characteristics of the installation.
You would never purchase a piece of property if they only gave you one piece of information in the form of a number. So why should you decide which type of insulation to install based on one number? When purchasing property, you research dozens of things like location, size, land, etc. You should do the same thing when you are figuring out what type of insulation to install.
The R-value is only accurate when insulation is tested in the lab. You don’t receive any R-values from everyday weather conditions. We must dig deeper to find out how resistant to air penetration the insulation is, how well moisture can pass through, and vapor drive.
As of right now, the R-value of insulation is supposed to give you an indication of how much the material resists loss of heat.
Benefits of Spray Foam: R-Value Plus So Much More
Here are some of the key benefits of boosting not only R-value, but also so much more:
Spray foam acts as an air barrier. This reduces moisture infiltration into the house, which reduces the growth of mold and mildew. Mold and mildew can both cause severe illness while also destroying the value of a home. Spray foam also reduces the ingress of toxic pollutants into the home – which is important when you’re living in Oklahoma City or other urban areas.
–Spray foam provides greater energy and utility savings with R-value and air tightness.Homeowners typically save 30% or more off their energy and utility bills every month after switching to high R-value spray foam insulation. Upgrading to spray foam may seem expensive, but the upgrade typically pays for itself in less than 5 years through energy savings alone.
-Higher home value. New homebuyers are educated on the value of energy savings and efficiency. As a result, high R-value spray foam insulation can add thousands onto a home’s assessed value.
Essentially, spray foam can help you save on home heating and cooling cost and reduce your energy bill every month. Homeowners also get the added bonus of living in a cleaner, healthier household.
Conclusion: You Need to Consider Spray Foam R-Value But So Much More
As mentioned above, R-value is an important metric for insulation, but it’s not everything. R-value must be paired with other factors to achieve maximum benefit and effectiveness for your home.
Spray foam is an ideal solution for homeowners in Oklahoma. Homeowners can save money on heating their homes during the winter and reduce the costs of air conditioning during the sweltering summers.
If you’re looking for spray foam in Oklahoma, Kool Foam is one of the state’s top providers. Kool Foam offers 6.9 R-value spray foam that protects your home from air infiltration, mold and mildew, outside and noises. Kool Foam has a team of experienced spray foam technicians to provide amazing insulation in homes and businesses across Oklahoma.