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Heating & Air News

The Best Type of Insulation for Homes in Virginia

Posted by Howell's Heating & Air on January 26, 2017

Construct of House.jpgThere are four types of insulation commonly used in residential homes in Virginia: fiberglass insulation, spray foam insulation, cellulose insulation, and mineral wool insulation. Each insulation type has unique advantages as well as disadvantages related to price, effectiveness, flammability, sound protection, ease of installation, and other factors.

The overall list of residential insulation options available is far more extensive, but we’re only going to be focusing on the four most commonly used insulation types in this article. For more information on the other insulation materials , check out this article from Energy.Gov.

Before starting a new insulation project, keep in mind that insulation projects in existing homes typically have rather long payback periods. Don’t rush into a project without carefully considering how long it will take to recoup the investment in energy savings.

Insulation Recommendations for Central Virginia

Map of Virginia.jpgWhether you love the extreme seasonal changes of Virginia, or hate them, there’s no denying the fact that we get very hot summers and very cold winters. Just this January, the temperature in Richmond dropped down to an astounding 1°F!

Three days later, the temperature rose to 70°F! With such variety, it’s vital for Virginia homeowners to have a well-insulated home.

Recommended Insulation Ratings for Virginia (Climate Zone 4)

Insulation is measured in R-Value, and the R-Value rating is determined by a material’s ability to resist heat transference. Here are the Energy Star insulation recommendations for Virginia:

  • Uninsulated Attic: Add R38 to R60
  • Existing 3-4 Inches of Insulation: R38
  • Floor: R25 to R30
  • Uninsulated Wood Frame Wall: R5 insulative wall sheathing
  • Insulated Wood Frame Wall: R5 insulative sheathing

Impact of Insulation on Heating and Cooling Efficiency

Poorly insulated houses will have higher energy bills and put added strain on HVACs, heat pumps, furnaces, and other heating and cooling equipment. Added strain on equipment means a shorter overall life span and more repairs of the HVAC system in your Richmond home.

Even if having a well-insulated home only adds two or three years to the life of a heat pump or other piece of equipment, those few years can add significantly to the overall value you get out of heating and cooling equipment investments.

The Four Primary Types of Insulation for Residential Homes

loose fiberglass Insulation1. FiberGlass

Fiberglass Insulation Advantages:

  • Cost Effective
  • More Fire Retardant Than Some Options
  • Very Little Expansion/Contraction with Temperature Changes
  • Added Sound Absorption
  • Much of This Product Is Made from Recycled Materials

Fiberglass Insulation Disadvantages:

  • Lifespan Is Only about 25 Years
  • It’s Itchy
  • Not Very Protective Against Air Leaks
  • Vulnerable to Moisture & Mold
  • Not as Dense or Efficient as Some Insulation Material

Fiberglass Insulation Cost:

  • $.30 - $.50 per sq. ft.

Cellulose Insulation.jpg2. Cellulose

Cellulose Insulation Advantages:

  • Very High R-Value Per Square Inch
  • Fits Snuggly around Poles And in Tight Corners
  • Good for Adding Insulation to Finished Areas
  • Usually Treated with Fire Retardants that Can Help Control the Spread of Fire.
  • Very Environmentally Friendly
  • Made Primarily from Recycled Materials

Cellulose Insulation Disadvantages:

  • Sometimes Difficult to Find Someone Capable of Installing this Form of Insulation
  • Much Heavier than Fiberglass Insulation
  • Prone to Dust Problems

Cellulose Insulation Cost:

  • $.30 - $.50 per sq. ft.

Rock Wool Insulation.jpg3. Mineral Wool

Mineral Wool Insulation Advantages:

  • Very Flame Resistance (temperature must be above 1,800°F
  • Can Withstand Higher Temperatures than Most Insulations
  • Durable
  • Moisture-Resistant
  • Very Good Sound Blocking Qualities

Mineral Wool Insulation Disadvantages:

  • Much Harder to Work with Compared to Other Insulation Materials
  • Not as Easy to Place in Oddly Shaped Areas
  • Very Dangerous if Inhaled – May Even Cause Cancer If Inhaled

Mineral Wool Insulation Advantages:

  • $.60 - $1 per sq. ft.

Spray Foam Insulation.jpg4. Spray Foam

Spray Foam Insulation Advantages:

  • More Effective than Fiberglass Insulation and Other Insulation Materials
  • Very Long Lifespan: 80+ years
  • Great for Adding Insulation to Finished or Abnormally Shaped Areas
  • Very High Sound Abortion
  • Increase to Structural Integratory

Spray Foam Insulation Disadvantages:

  • Most Are Quite Flammable
  • More Expensive than Most of the Other Insulation Materials
  • Professional Installation Required
  • Some Options Are Not Environmentally Friendly

Spray Foam Insulation Cost:

  • $1 - $3 per sq. ft.

Do You Have Insulation Problems in Your Home?

Our expert technicians have the equipment and know-how to identify insulation problems and air flow issues that you might be causing cold spots, drafts, and wasted energy. We can tell if your heating and cooling equipment is working overtime to compensate for poor insulation or other problems. 

It’s worth looking into this issue, because poor insulation could be taking away from the efficiency of your heating and cooling equipment and causing unnecessarily high monthly energy bills.

And if you happen to also need an inspection or repair of the HVAC system in Midlothian or elsewhere in the area, we'll be ready to get to work!

Contact us to set up an appointment with one of our technicians or to schedule an airflow diagnostic test of your home.

Contact an Airflow Expert 



Topics: Heating and Cooling Maintenance, airflow diagnostic, Insulation

Serving greater Richmond, VA

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