Home Insulation – How Much Do You Need?

measure attic insulation depthCanadian homeowners like you know the necessity for properly insulating your home. The more pertinent question however is probably not so much whether you should have it but how much of it do you really need. Insulation keeps the heat in when the weather is cold and keeps the heat out when the weather is hot.Everyone wants to be comfortable in their own homes without impractically raising their gas or electricity bills and spending too much. This can be achieved with the right amount of insulation. It is recommended that homes should have an R-50 value this is increasing to R-60 for new Ontario homes in 2016.

There are several factors you will have to consider to know how much insulation is necessary. The first and most obvious one is the size of your house. A bigger house simple means more area needs to be covered. It is not just the apparent size either. It depends on whether there are several sections like an attic or basement. Then there is the difference in the thickness of the various walls and ceilings. A thicker wall and wider ceiling apparently need more insulation material. This very much goes into how your house was designed. Sometimes a complex structure, although it may be essentially small, results in more areas to be covered.

Typically a house needs to be insulated in the following areas:

  • Attic – between and over floor joists, access door, knee walls studs, rafters of external walls and roof
  • Exterior walls – all exterior walls, between living area and unheated areas like garage or storage areas, foundation walls above ground and basement
  • Floors – any that is above a cold space, cantilevered floors beyond exterior walls, those directly built on the ground
  • Full interior walls
  • Band joists
  • Windows

The other factor is the type of insulation you plan to use. Some materials are denser than others. Some are more flexible and possibly more suited to covering particular structures. There is no one-size fits-all type of insulating material that can consistently cover every essential part of your house. It will likely turn out in the end, that you will need to mix and match insulation materials and this means you will have to procure various amounts of each type depending on which part of your home the particular insulation will be installed.

A specification you need to think about is the insulation’s R-value. This quite technical term is the measurement of a particular material’s heat resistance. Basically, the higher the R-value, the less heat is able to pass through or escape the material. Take note that each insulating material has its own rating so to speak. This is different from an insulated structure’s total heat resistance which combines both the structure’s and the insulating material’s R-values. So for example, a thick wall already has an inherent and relatively high heat resistance and therefore may not need a high R-value insulation or a huge amount of low R-value material.Most types of insulation from foams to fiberglass to cellulose fall within the R-value range of R3.0 to R4.0 per inch.