A term like R-value is pretty well known, but how many of us know what the R stands for? There are some good guesses like … Really good insulation, Reflecting heat value. The R in R-value stands for Resistance to heat flow and the higher the R-value, the greater the resistance which equals more insulating power.
Energy Star specifies the R-value needed in exterior walls and ceilings, based on where you live. But they're just numbers that are difficult to relate to … so let's try using sweaters which are similar, and something everyone can understand.
- Sweaters – help take the chill off because the fibers of the yarn hold in some of your body heat.
- Windbreakers – help stop the wind from blowing through, so you probably won't experience as much cold air.
- Winter coats – are thicker than sweaters or windbreakers, to provide more insulation against the cold.
- Ski jackets – have a wind breaker on the outside, with varying materials and thickness inside.
When LL Bean gives you temperature ratings for their high-end ski jackets, it makes sense and if you're planning to go somewhere cold, you want to be prepared.
Insulation & R-Value Part of A Larger System
When I ran my handyman business, many homeowners called asking us to install more insulation, but that's not always the right solution. Insulation is the easiest part of the heating/cooling system because you can see it, but here's what you need for maximum energy efficiency.
- House must be sealed, to close gaps where air can move between your home and the exterior of your house.
- The right amount of insulation should be used in the walls and ceilings, and it must be installed properly. For example, if gaps are left air can flow and if insulation is compressed, it won't be as effective.
- Ventilation is also part of the system so that warm, moist air that does escape into your attic, can be exchanged for fresh air from outside.