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R Value and What it Means

Apr 3, 2012

What do you say if someone asks you about your home’s R Value? Like most American homeowners, you probably say, “What’s an R Value?” It’s a good question and an important one, because once you know what it is, investing in it efficiently can save you hundreds of dollars in home energy costs.

An R Value is a measurement of the effectiveness of a home’s insulation in resisting heat passing through it (resistance to heat transfer). For example, a home that is outfitted with energy efficient siding can see its R Value increase by more than 20% and enjoy the added benefit of less outdoor noise penetration. The higher the R Value, the more effective the thermal performance of the insulation, leading to lower energy bills for the homeowner.

A home’s siding plays a very important role as a protective barrier to its “envelope” (shell). Damaged or ineffective siding can allow water to seep in and become trapped in, and behind it. This can result in very serious problems such as:

  • Mold
  • Rotten sheathing
  • Wet insulation
  • Termites
  • Structural rot

Among some of the more energy efficient siding options available are:

  • Fiber cement
  • Insulated vinyl
  • Rigid foam sheathing
  • Make sure that you have a RESNET EnergySmart Contractor install and test this type of insulation to ensure there’s no backdraft of harmful fumes into the house.

Gutters also contribute greatly to a home’s durability. If wrongly installed or made from inferior quality materials, gutter problems can cause serious damage to a home. Some examples of things to watch out for:

  • Avoid metal gutter protection in cold climates, as water will simply freeze on top of it. Find out what your options are from your local RESNET EnergySmart Contractor.
  • Don’t use nails to hang gutters; if there’s a heavy load, they’ll tear out. Screw them in instead.
  • Avoid a “one-size fits all” option; for the most efficient results, each area should be customized for the proper fit.

While it’s easy to discount the value of a good gutter system because, aesthetically speaking, it’s usually not that high up on the typical homeowner’s list, an inefficient system can result in some very serious problems. For example, structural damage could occur through water seepage into the basement. Also, the home’s indoor air quality can be affected because the furnace, which is located in the basement, will be pumping up air from the now damp areas where there may be instances of mold or mildew.

To avoid such problems, contact a RESNET EnergySmart Contractor who can advise and provide you with the energy saving solution that’s right for you.