Technical Papers

How Home Insulation Stops Heat from Traveling Where it Shouldn't

Tuesday, June 4th, 2013

Delmarva homes needs insulation to keep comfortable temperatures in all climates.Many people know at least one benefit of insulation: it keeps your home warm in the winter.  We often use the analogy of a down winter jacket acting as the insulation for your body on a cold winter day.  What does not come as easily is thinking of how this concept can be applied during the warm summer months: it's actually equally as important in the summer as it is in the winter.  

Let’s talk heat

Heat moves in three ways: radiation, conduction, and convection.  Radiation is when heat is transformed into radiant energy to heat anything in its path. Conduction is the transfer of heat through direct contact with heat. Finally, convection is when heat moves through the air; for example, we all know that hot air rises, so the hot air is traveling by convection.  

Here's another thing to consider about heat: it likes to travel from places where there is more heat to places where there is less heat.  This is where insulation is key.  

Insulation Slows the Transfer of Heat

Thankfully, home insulation such as spray foam, blown-in, cellulose and more, actually slow down the transfer of heat through various surfaces. Insulation is made of dense, bulky products such as fiberglass, cellulose or block foam, that have the correct properties to decrease the flow of heat.  The amount of heat that the insulation is able to resist is measured by the R-value (resistance to heat flow).  

The R-value of insulation that you need in your home varies depending on where your home is located.  In the Delmarva region, the US Department of energy recommends an R-value between R-49 and R-60 in the attic.  This can a shock to many people, especially those who have no insulation in their attics!

Attic Insulation in DE and MD is VERY Important

Here's a shot of radiant barrier used as attic insulation in this Delmarva home.

The most important area of your house to insulate is the attic, because it collects and loses the most energy and heat. When the radiant heat from the sun travels through the roof into your attic, it builds up large amounts of heat.  The attic cannot release this heat quickly enough, so it moves downward into your home.  If you have a properly insulated attic, the movement of  heat through the attic floors will slow down, keeping more hot air in the attic and out of the conditioned space of your house.  

Another special type of insulation is radiant barrier insulation, which isn’t the thick type of insulation you’re thinking of.  Radiant barrier insulation is a reflective sheet that reflects the radiant energy entering into your attic back outwards.  This method of insulation is most effective when combined with other types of insulation for the attic floor.


Basement Insulation is Important Too!

Basement insulation is also very important! A lot of the hot, outside air enters into your house right where the basement ceiling and base of your house meet.  Most homes that are built on a basement, or crawl space foundation have no insulation for the walls or ceiling other than fiberglass batt insulation.  This type of insulation is actually ineffective and potentially harmful to have in your basement or crawl space.  This type of insulation does not fully cover the ceiling, leaving gaps for air and heat to travel through to the rest of your home.  It is also very susceptible to trapping moisture. condensing, and allowing mold to grow inside of the insulation, all of which compromise the effectiveness of the insulation.  

Dr. Energy Saver carries and installs several types of insulation that are immune to mold and moisture damage. Contact us today for a free estimate for home insulation in DE and the Eastern Shore of Maryland.

Insulating Your Living Space

The next spaces to insulate are the conditioned (or living) space of your home and your garage.  Not that these spaces are not important to insulate, but most of the walls of your home are already insulated, and the least amount of air leaks through the conditioned space of your home.  If you have a detached garage, you may not need any insulation, unless you would like to use it as a work space.  If your garage is in any way connected to your home, you may want to seriously consider have it insulated.  If your garage is connected to your house (there may be a room above the garage or one right next to it) that means that there is a thermal connection between the garage in your home.  

This concept will work the same way as the attic.  If the heat from outside is able to enter into and build up in your garage, it will travel without effort into the conditioned space of your home in the absence of insulation.  If your garage is insulated, including all walls, ceilings, and doors (yes even the main garage door), the chances of heat entering into your garage and ultimately your home are greatly decreased.

As you can see, insulation is important in all areas of your home to keep heat flow from coming in or going out (depending on the season).  If you have any questions about whether you need to upgrade the insulation in your home, give Dr. Energy Saver a call.  One of our experts will gladly come to your home to find the best solution for your ultimate comfort.

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