Insulation R Value and Sports Fans: What They Have in Common

November 4, 2014
niki dube

588753_12135595If you’re a loyal sports fan, there is no weather system that will keep you from cheering on your favorite team. Regardless of whether it’s the Washington Redskins or your daughter’s high school soccer team, you’ll be in the stands showing your support. However, if you’ve been a fan for long, you know how cold it can be to sit and watch other people run around a field during a DC winter. Veteran fans take the necessary precautions and dress appropriately.

What is R value?

Believe it or not, being a winter sports fan and home insulation have some parallels when it comes to staying warm. Before you contemplate those similarities, you need to understand some terminology. The term R value is used to tell consumers how resistant to heat flow a particular insulation is. It depends on the type of insulation, its thickness and its density. The greater the R value, the better the insulation.

The US Department of Energy mandates insulation manufacturers clearly mark their products with the R value. They have also issued insulation recommendations for homes based on the zip code in which you live. Those recommendations take into consideration the climate of your area as well as the average energy usage of the local population.

A DC home example

For example, let’s say you wanted to know whether or not the existing DC home you just purchased needs additional insulation in the attic. Using the insulation calculator on the Department of Energy website, you learn that the recommended R value of the insulation in your attic is 49. After examining the insulation in your attic, you learn that there are two layers of R19 fiberglass rolls.

To determine the R value of multiple layers, you simply add the R value of the layers together. That means the current R value of the insulation in your attic is 38, below the recommended amount. To reach the recommended R value, you would need to add a layer of insulation with an R value of at least 11.

R value and sports

So, what do R values have to do with sports? Valid question. Think back to a time when you sat shivering on the sidelines watching a game. What parts of you got cold first? Chances are that your feet and hands were the first parts of your body to feel the effects of the chill. Science indicates that most of our body heat escapes out our feet and our head, so those are the body parts we should focus on keeping warm.

Similarly, you’ll notice that recommended R values for the attic are significantly higher than for a wall cavity.

After your first cold game, how did you dress differently the next time? Your clothing choices were likely based on materials and thickness. You chose a wool sweater over the cotton t-shirt, denim jeans and long underwear over nylon jogging pants, etc.

Insulation is similar. Certain materials and thicknesses provide better insulation for specific parts of your home.

Need help?

So, as you consider home insulation for your DC house, remember how you would dress to go to a snowy, blustery Redskins game and insulate accordingly. As always, if you have any questions or would rather us fit your home against the elements, give us a call. We’re here to help.