Whether it’s wrapping your home’s envelope or its ductwork, insulation plays a key role in HVAC efficiency. Without protection from heat gain or loss, your home’s cooling and heating system will work much harder to maintain comfort. Energy bills would go up substantially and your comfort will decline.
What Insulation Does
Insulation increases HVAC efficiency by slowing the movement of heat. Nearly all kinds have tiny air bubbles that prevent heat exchange, in the same way a down-filled jacket keeps you warm in the winter and Styrofoam keeps food cold in the summer.
How Is Insulated Rated
Insulation is rated by its R-value. The "R-" stands for resistance and the value indicates how many hours it can resist temperature change. An insulation product with an R-value of 10 would resist temperature change for 10 hours.
Acceptable Insulation Levels
The U.S. Department of Energy suggests that you prioritize attic insulation to cut energy bills. Roofs have constant exposure to the weather, which makes attics the most vulnerable places for heat gain and loss. They recommend that homes in this area should ideally have 16 inches in the attic, with eight inches at a minimum.
Wall insulation levels vary based on the building. A home with 2 x 4 construction can accommodate R-13 batts between the studs, while a 2 x 6 wall can use R-30 batts. HVAC ductwork needs insulation if it runs through unconditioned spaces like the attic or the basement ceiling. The recommended R-value for most HVAC insulation is R-6.
If you feel you have the skills, you can add more to the attic or hire a professional. Most homeowners hire a contractor to add insulation to the walls, since it requires more equipment and skill. Insulating the ductwork almost always requires an HVAC pro who will first seal all the air leaks and then install the insulation.
Increasing insulation will improve HVAC efficiency, since it won’t have to work as hard. To learn more, contact Valley Heating, Cooling, Electrical and Solar by calling us at (408) 868-5500 or visiting our website for information about most HVAC topics.