The Old Farmer’s Almanac is calling for the 2013-2014 winter to be much colder and much wetter than normal. This may not be cutting-edge science, but if you have ever spent a cold winter’s night in a poorly insulated home in Wichita, you will not want to take chances. There’s still time to ensure that your insulation is sufficient. To properly do that, you should understand a little about how insulation efficiency is measured.

Insulating R-Value

When measuring how good insulation is, we use a unit called the R-value. Without getting too technical, you can think of the insulating R-value as being the ratio of a material’s heat transfer to its thickness. More efficient types of insulation can provide the required amount of insulating efficiency while remaining thin.

Wichita is in Zone 4 of the Department of Energy insulation map. For this zone, the minimum recommended insulating R-values are R-38 for attics, R-25 for floors and R-5 for exterior walls. The department recommends a higher wall value if your home uses electric heat.

Insulation Types

The various types of insulation require different thicknesses to reach the same insulating R-value. Here are some common home insulation types and their estimated R-values.

  • Fiberglass blanket: The most common home insulation in the Wichita area. Offers an R-value of about R-14 per 6-inch thick sheet.
  • Blown-In cellulose Insulation: This type has an R-value of about R-14, but it does a better job of filling in cracks and crevices, especially in attics.
  • Polyurethane sheets: These are lightweight and offer a good R-value of R-8 per inch.
  • Spray foam: The best insulation commonly used in the Wichita area. It’s R-value is R-9 per inch.

To maximize your HVAC system’s heating and cooling potential, it’s essential to have the right insulating R-value. To ensure you and your home are ready for a potentially brutal Wichita winter, contact Comfort Systems, and let one of our specialists analyze your current insulation and make a recommendation.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in Wichita, Kansas about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).  For more information about R-Values and other HVAC topics, download our free Home Comfort Resource guide.