If you haven’t done so in the last few years, or you’ve just moved into the house, it’s a good idea to check your insulation now. Residential insulation specifications of the past were far below current acceptable minimums. The fact is, many existing homes today are under-insulated by the latest Department of Energy standards. Inadequate insulation means homes lose heat in winter and gain heat in summer. The result: diminished indoor comfort and higher energy costs.
Understanding the R-Factor
Insulation effectiveness is expressed by the R-factor of the material. The higher the R-factor, the better it retards heat transfer. Homes are generally insulated in two principal areas: the attic and exterior walls. In most cases, the attic is most critical for controlling heat loss and gain.
Checking Attic Insulation
Checking the attic insulation level is an easy DIY procedure if you take these precautions:
- Choose a cool time of day to venture into the attic.
- Wear protective clothing and a mask to avoid inhaling insulation fibers and dust.
- Walk only on the walkway boards in the attic and do not step out on beds of insulation. The ceiling below may collapse under your weight.
Proper Insulation for San Antonio Homes
Most homes are insulated by either fiberglass batts or blown-in cellulose loose fill. Use a ruler to measure the depth of attic insulation. Per the Department Of Energy recommendations for our climate zone, attic insulation should fall into the following range:
- Fiberglass batts: 9 inches up to 20 inches
- Cellulose loose-fill: 8 inches up to 16 inches
When to Call a Pro
Measuring insulation inside exterior wall cavities is more difficult and generally requires cutting one or more access holes and using an inspection scope to determine the exact amount. Alternatively, a qualified HVAC technician may utilize infrared technology to image heat loss through walls, then determine the amount and quality of insulation based on that information. In general, exterior walls should be insulated to a minimum of R15. For our climate zone, this translates to at least 3 to 4 inches of fiberglass batt insulation or blown-in cellulose.
For more about proper insulation levels or professional service to check your insulation, contact Beyer Boys.
Our goal is to help educate our customers in the greater San Antonio, Texas area about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).