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Insulation Ratings in Massachusetts: What MA Homeowners Need to Know

insulation ratings what you need to know mass my energy monster

insulation ratings what you need to know mass my energy monster

As October comes to a close, many people around the country are bracing for a winter full of snow and ice. And while many Massachusetts residents are prepared for temperatures to drop as we get into the winter months, right now, air conditioners are still humming across the country.

We know winter is coming in the northeast. Keeping your energy costs down all year long is important. So what can you do about high energy costs? Make sure your home is properly insulated! Insulation serves as a barrier between you and the outside world. It keeps that air-conditioned air inside in the summer, so you don’t have to spend so much on cooling costs and keeps the heat in during the winter.

How do you even begin to assess your insulation needs or know if you have sufficient insulation? Start by learning about the home insulation ratings and the different kinds of insulation ratings.

What Are Insulation Ratings (R-Value = Heat Flow)?

There are many different types of home insulation, from fiberglass insulation to spray foam insulation, and they vary in effectiveness. Each type of insulation has an R-Value, which is defined as the ability to resist heat flow. The higher an insulation’s R-Value, the better the insulation’s ability to not lose heat or let air escape. The following table gives examples of common types of home insulation and their average R-Values.

What Insulation is Best for Your Home?

When you know that some home insulation is better at resisting heat flow than others, it might be tempting to purchase the insulation with the highest R-Value and call it a day. But that might not be the best option for insulating your home (or for your budget). The types of insulation you need depend on many factors, such as:

Where You Live

Clearly, different areas of the United States have different climates. While Massachusetts residents are no strangers to significant weather events, we often have to deal with intense cold or snow. Of course, you need insulation to keep out the cold outdoor hot air in the summer.

However, because we don’t have the same weather across the country, we don’t have the same insulation standards across the country. Energy Star’s map of recommended home insulation shows that the majority of Massachusetts is within Zone 5. This zone has a recommended R-Value of 49 to 60 for an uninsulated attic, R38 to R49 for an attic with existing insulation, and R25 to R30 for the floor. Each state does have its own minimum insulation requirements, which are often lower than the levels recommended by the Department of Energy.

Where You Are Installing The Insulation

You may have noticed that there are different recommended insulation ratings depending on the area of the home (basement, crawl space, roof, etc.). This is not an accident; some rooms in your home do not need as much insulation as others, which should be considered when installing. Determine whether you have adequate insulation in these main areas.

  • Exterior Walls. Your walls don’t need as much insulation as you might think. The recommended insulation R-Value for walls in Zone 5 is R5-6. This means you don’t have to spend your whole budget beefing up insulation in this area (and you can focus on other parts of your home!)
  • Floor. Did you know that your floors are one of the most significant areas of energy loss in your home? Because of this, they need a little more attention than your walls. Energy experts recommend insulation R-Values of 13 to 19 for floors.
  • Attic. Your attic is the most crucial area of your home to insulate properly. It requires an R-Value of 30 to 60. A properly insulated attic space doesn’t let in allergens or mold-causing moisture, and insulation helps your attic ventilate properly, so heat doesn’t get trapped. 

Whether There is Existing Insulation

Adding new insulation to your home is no small task, but if your home already has insulation, you may not have to start from scratch. An insulation contractor can help you decide whether your existing insulation needs to be replaced with higher insulation R-values, or you can add a few extra inches of the same type to increase its effectiveness.

Your Home’s Heating System

The type of heating and cooling equipment in your home has an impact on your energy bill and the effectiveness of your insulation. Homes fueled with oil or natural gas only need an R-Value of 38 in the attic, while homeowners who use an electric furnace will need a minimum R-Value of 38 to 49 in their attics.

How Do You Decide?

There are many different types of insulation, and each proposed building has unique needs. Energy Monster recommends spray foam insulation for Massachusetts residents because of its high R-Value, ability to create an airtight seal and moisture resistance, but the only way to know for sure is to talk to the certified experts. Schedule your spray foam insulation consultation today; we’ll be happy to help you assess your home’s insulation needs.

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