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One of the most important decisions that you will make is the insulation that will be in your new home. Energy costs are at all time highs and will probably rise in the future. Heating and cooling your home accounts for 50% to 70% of your homes energy use. A properly insulated home will save you money month after month, year after year. The most frequently asked question by potential homebuyers is the difference between 2×4 and 2×6 construction. The simple answer is the amount of insulation that can be installed in the wall cavity. There are other factors that should be considered in the type of insulation that is used and why 2×6 is far superior to 2×4 construction. Hopefully the following break down answers most of these questions.
2×4 or 2×6
A wall framed with 2×4 studs can be insulated with an R-13 or an R-15 if high density insulation is used. A wall framed with 2×6 studs can be insulated with an R-19 or an R-23 if high density insulation is used. A home that is insulated with an R-19 or an R-23 will use less energy and save you money each and every month. The additional benefit of the added insulation is that it helps keep your home quieter from outside noises. All of our homes exterior walls are framed with 2×6 engineered studs and insulated with a high density fiberglass with an R-23. We insulate our ceilings with an R-40 blown in fiberglass. We use engineered studs which are stronger and there is less chance of twisting and warping.
Batt Insulation or Blown insulation
Batt insulation is manufactured in rolls and there are various thicknesses for the differing R-values. Batt insulation is placed into the wall cavity and stapled between two studs. The biggest problem is that batt insulation leaves gaps and is hard to place properly in some areas.
Blown insulation is blown into the wall cavity either by a wet spray or by covering the wall with netting and blowing the insulation behind the netting into the wall cavities. This method is ,in our opinion, the most efficient method of insulating a home. It allows us to insulate hard to reach areas properly and eliminates gaps where energy can be lost.
Cellulose or Fiberglass
Fiberglass and Cellulose are the most common materials used in home insulation.
When we compare R-Values, both products are similar. It is important to note that “R-value per inch” does not matter because the R-value rates the resistance of heat flow. 12″ of insulation rated at R30 will achieve the same effect as 18″ of insulation rated at R30. Therefore, you can conclude that the products are equal when we compare thermal resistance.
Settling refers to the gradual sinking of the material. Usually fiberglass has minimal settling and will appear to hold the same thickness as the day it was installed. Cellulose settles at a higher rate, sometimes up to 20%. This settling will cause gaps in coverage and reduces the energy efficiency of your home.
Fiberglass is naturally noncombustible because it is made of spun glass, which is essentially sand. No additional fire retardant material is added to fiberglass insulation. Cellulose is newspaper based, which is naturally combustible. Cellulose insulation is treated with fire retardant chemicals. Occasionally this chemical may lose its effectiveness over time and could pose as a fire hazard later in it’s useful life.