How Insulation Works in the Winter

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Chilly months have arrived here in Waynesboro and Charlottesville, and after not having any snow to speak of last winter, our children are polishing up their sleds and greatly anticipating the predicted snowfall for this season. Winter festivities are fun, but are so much more enjoyable when you have a well-insulated, warm home that is protected from the elements.

At Responsible House we’re building scientists, which means we understand the importance of insulation and air sealing to maximize your home comfort and efficiency. These fundamental home upgrades can help you stay cozy any time of the year—here’s how. 

Types of Heat Flow

To understand how insulation works, it’s important to first know how heat moves through your home. Heat will always move from warmer to cooler areas, and during the winter the heat in your home will gravitate from your living spaces to an unconditioned attic, garage, or crawl space. When it’s cold outside, heat will also escape from gaps, cracks, and other areas where air leaks are present. Insulation provides an added layer of protection that can help prevent unwanted heat transfer through your home. 

Heat can move in three ways: conduction, convection, and radiation. 

  • Conduction – This is when heat moves from one solid object to another via direct touch. In a home, conduction can be seen where the temperature difference is the greatest, like windows, roof, and exterior walls. 
  • Convection – This is when heat flows through liquid, gasses, and air. Convection explains how warm air rises and is replaced with cooler air in a home.
  • Radiation – When heat is transferred through electromagnetic waves. Unlike conduction and convection, radiation does not require a medium for heat transfer. The most widely known source of radiation heat flow is heat from the sun’s rays.

Insulation & Winter Home Comfort

Insulation acts as a down jacket for your home, keeping heated air in your living spaces throughout the winter. However, it’s a common misconception that insulation only keeps your home warm in the winter—it can help keep cool, conditioned air inside throughout the warmer months too. By slowing heat flow, insulation plays a crucial role in your home’s energy efficiency and comfort. Even with the most advanced HVAC system on the market, a home with significant air leaks and poor insulation will still suffer from high energy bills, indoor drafts, and uneven temperatures. 

Why Air Sealing Matters

Air leaks are one of the top contributors to energy loss in a home, with ENERGY STAR reporting that gaps and cracks in your building envelope can add up to the equivalent of leaving a window open all year long. While most types of insulation technically protect your home from conductive and convective heat transfer, excessive air flow can actually degrade cellulose and fiberglass insulation. This is not the case, however, with spray foam insulation, as it has both air sealing and insulative qualities. Air sealing prevents this unwanted airflow in and out of your home, which enhances the benefits of insulation while also helping keep your home protected from moisture intrusion.

How to Measure Insulation’s Effectiveness 

Most types of insulation protect your home from conductive heat transfer, and an insulative material’s thermal resistance—or its ability to resist conduction—is measured by a rating known as R-value. Higher R-values translate to a higher thermal resistance, and the Department of Energy recommends specific R-values for different climate zones. Charlottesville and Waynesboro are in climate zone 4 with the following recommended insulation R-values throughout a home:

  • Uninsulated attics – R60
  • Uninsulated floors – R19
  • Uninsulated exterior walls – R20 within framing + R5 of continuous insulation between framing and siding

Maximize Your Benefits With Spray Foam Insulation

At Responsible House, we install high-quality spray foam insulation, which has a high R-value and air seals in addition to protecting your home from all 3 types of heat transfer (most types of insulation only slow conductive and convective heat flow). Spray foam also offers several other whole-home benefits, including:

  • Improved indoor air quality
  • Noise reduction
  • Lower heating & cooling costs
  • Moisture control
  • Long-lasting
  • Radiant barrier 

Spray foam insulation is a great solution for any area of your home, but can be especially beneficial for hard to reach places that are prone to energy loss, like attics, crawl spaces, and exterior walls.

Take the Guesswork Out of Home Upgrades With Responsible House 

We’ve been helping homeowners throughout Central Virginia make their homes more comfortable and energy efficient since 1995. With an extensive background in home construction and building science, we are equipped to find the most reliable and effective insulation solutions for the unique homes in our service area. Whether you have a historic home or something more modern, we have the necessary knowledge to keep you comfortable this winter and for many more to come. We even stay up to date with what incentives and rebates are available in Charlottesville and Waynesboro to help you maximize your savings and efficiency. 

Schedule your free insulation estimate with our team of experts today. Call 540-942-2061 or contact us online.

Happy Clients

Responsible House worked tirelessly to bring back to life my family’s 100-year old farmhouse with a major energy retrofit and extensive structural restoration. I cannot say enough good things about this local, family owned business. They meticulously pursued perfection at… Read more “We are immensely grateful”

Joyce C.

William came to study the problem. He was incredibly thorough weighing in all possible causes and solutions to my Attic blues. He then put together a plan and executed it to perfection. If you do not go to Responsible house… Read more “Attic Blues”

Charles C.

They caulked all the places on the interior of my log home where I was losing heat. I am saving 20% on my heating bill now. The team also fixed minor issues with the house which they found during the… Read more “Very Happy With The Work”

Donna S.

The experience I had from Responsible House installing my new insulation it was quick and effortless. Their team came in and within two days I was able to return to a much warmer house. My air-conditioning would run almost constantly… Read more “Quick And Effortless”

Jason W.

The upstairs level of our home used to get extremely hot in the summertime, using a lot of wasted electricity to try to cool things down. Responsible house was able to insulate our home which ended up zeroing out our… Read more “Extremely Hot Upstairs Insulation Google Review”

Rachel B.

The most amazing contractors I have ever worked with – William saved us! You will not find anyone as professional and competent – not only in the valley but honestly anywhere. I have had so many bad experiences – Responsible… Read more “Dahlia N./ Review”

Our project consisted of a kitchen/bath/bedroom remodel – a roughly 5 month project. William and his team were the consummate professionals throughout–skilled, knowledgeable, straightforward and direct. They provided advice and recommendations when needed and dealt promptly with any problems that… Read more “Kay B./ Review”

Not only do they provide high quality services, they also are extremely easy to work with and they have a strong sense of design. -Michael Brown/… Read more “Michael Brown/ Review”

“We highly recommend him and his team, and especially for a custom plan containing elements which are not standard construction.” –Custom Home… Read more “Custom Home Client/”

They have a very thorough attention to detail, and always rendered results that were exactly what the clients and I were after. –Annie M./… Read more “Annie M./ Review”