If you’re seeking to re-insulate your home, you’ll find a lot of products and product types out there. You may be wondering what the difference is between different insulation types, and what these differences mean for you and for your home. If you’re choosing between R19 and R30 insulation, which insulation is better?
R30 insulation will insulate better and keep your home warmer than R19 insulation. The “R” level on insulation indicates how dense the material is. Thus, R30 insulation is denser and insulates better than R19. However, there are places in your house where you can still benefit from R19 insulation, and where R30 wouldn’t be appropriate.
Keep reading to learn more about the different types of insulation, what this means for you, and how to use R19 and R30 insulation.
What Does Insulation Do?
Insulation is a material that is placed within walls and on the floor of an attic to help trap heat inside of your home, and keep your home warmer in the winter. The less heat escapes your home, the toastier everyone inside will be. Without insulation, even with a wood fire burning, the house can feel chilly.
Think of insulation as a sweater; just as a sweater or a thermal traps heat when you wear it and keeps you warmer, insulation helps trap warm air and allows your home to stay pleasant and warm when it’s cold outside.
Insulation can also save you considerable money on heating bills, as the more heat gets trapped by insulation, the less energy you’ll use to maintain comfortable temperatures. For this reason, it’s important to make sure that you’re installing insulation that is efficient and tailored for the space you’d like to protect.
What is Insulation Made Of?
Modern insulation is typically made of synthetic materials like cellulose, fiberglass, and mineral wool. These are manufactured, fluffy fibers that can be blown into place as in the case of cellulose, or unrolled in the case of pink fiberglass and placed on the floor of an attic or within a wall.
Some insulation also comes in the form of a spray-in foam or foam board. Spray-in foam insulation tends to trap the most heat compared to other insulation forms, as the semi-liquidity of the initial material can fill in more crevices and gaps. Fluffy batting, however, is still a preferred insulation style, as it’s fairly easy to work with, has no odor, and is not as messy as foam.
Fiberglass insulation can contain up to 60% recycled glass, and breathing this in can damage the lungs. Other fibers or chemicals found in insulation can damage your respiratory system, too. It is thus a general safety standard to wear a ventilating face mask when working with any insulation, to prevent yourself from inhaling harmful fibers or fumes.
Wearing goggles during installation can also help protect your eyes from fiberglass particles or from chemical irritation.
What Does the “R” Mean?
The “R” in insulation rating indicates how well it “resists” the transfer or loss of heat through its material. A high “R” rating means that the insulation is thicker and fluffier, and blocks more heat from traveling through it than lower-rated insulation.
The R rating is calculated by dividing the temperature difference between the warmer surface and the colder surface of the insulating barrier by the heat flux through the barrier. To increase the R-value of an insulated space, simply layer the insulation. Thus, two layers of R15 insulation will have an R-value of 30.
Insulation can be rated anywhere from R13 all the way up to R60. The level of R rating you’ll need for your home depends on where you live and what you are insulating. The colder the climate, the thicker you’ll want your insulation to be, and not all insulation types work equally well in all parts of your home. R60 is often used in the coldest, arctic climates.
What is R19 Insulation?
R19 is a lower-grade heat retention insulation that measures about 6.25 inches thick in fiberglass batt form. It can be simply unrolled and fit into place by hand. R19 can be pink, beige, or encased in brown paper for easy installation.
It works effectively within walls to keep heat retained from room to room and within the boundaries of your home. This insulation will be placed between the 2×6 boards that help compose the interior skeleton of your home’s walls.
On top of these rows of insulation will go woodwork, drywall, and everything else you see when you look at any interior home wall. R19 roll-out insulation is often carefully sized to fit between 2×6 boards snugly and is fairly easy to install.
What is R30 Insulation?
R30 insulation is a medium to high-grade heat retention insulation that measures about 10 inches thick in rolled batt form. It’s often pink in color and looks like a thick strip of pillowy cotton candy.
R30 insulation is used in attics and ceilings to insulate against the extreme heat loss that would otherwise result during cold winter months. Thus, R30 insulation is great for those living in chiller climates who want a maximum amount of heat loss protection.
The R30 insulation can be rolled out and placed between the joists of a ceiling, on top of existing insulation, and between the roof rafters. R30 is highly recommended for colder climates, where retaining heat in the winter is vital. It comes in a few different forms but is most commonly seen as a rolled-up batting.
Which Will Save You More Money?
Both R19 and R30 insulation will save you money, but they need to be installed in the appropriate context. Different types of insulation tend to work better in different contexts, and that’s the case here.
Simply, you would not install R19 insulation in an attic, nor would you install R30 insulation in a wall. While R30 insulation is thicker and insulates better than R19 insulation, it won’t work in walls, as it’s too chunky.
And R19 insulation is simply too thin to be used in attics, even in the mildest climates. It just wouldn’t do enough to prevent heat loss anywhere besides a wall. So, both R19 and R30 can help you save money, but you can’t interchange them one for another, or switch them out. They both work great but must be used in different parts of your house.
What Are the Benefits of R19 and R30 Insulation?
Both R19 and R30 insulation can be rolled out by hand with basic safety equipment including goggles and a face mask, and are simply pressed into place. They require minimal tools, have no unpleasant odor, and exude no harmful fumes.
If you make a mistake and accidentally install the wrong thickness insulation, it’s fairly easy to remove R19 and R30 batting and install something thinner or thicker.
R19 and R30 insulations work well, and can often be installed in one afternoon. R19 and R30 insulation are also hands-free once installed. Whereas foam insulation may need to be monitored after installation for harmful fumes, cracks, and odors, traditional batting is relatively clean, safe, and mess-free. It doesn’t smell, either.
R19 and R30 insulation can also help improve the integrity of your home. The more protected from excessive cold or heat your home interior is, the longer the materials of your house can last, too. This can save you money on repairs in the long run, and help add value to your home over the years, too.
Can Insulation Help in Warm Climates, too?
Yes, insulation can even help keep you cooler in warm climates. The insulation can also help trap cool air, and keep it within your home. Insulation can also help protect your interior from hotter outside air, and keep temperatures consistent in the summer.
Insulation is great for any and every type of climate control within a house, and whether you’re running a heater or an air conditioner, insulation can save you money.
Thus, your air conditioning can run much more efficiently if your home is well insulated, and having a well-insulated house can save you energy in the warm months as well. Don’t be afraid to go for bulky insulation even if you live in a warmer climate. The thicker insulation can do as great a job trapping in cooled air as it does trap in warm air.
While R30 insulation will insulate better than R19 insulation, they need to be installed in different settings. R19 insulation works well within a home’s walls, whereas R30 insulation should be used in attics and in ceilings.
Thus, both types of insulation can save you money and help you save energy year-round if installed correctly, and in the appropriate parts of your home. You can’t interchange them and need to use them in different places, but both work well.
Both R19 and R30 come in easy-to-install rolled batting and should be handled carefully, with the appropriate nose, mouth, and eye protection as you install, to help protect your lungs and eyes from particles and from damage.
Once installed, R19 and R30 insulations are hands-off and will help improve the value, comfort, and integrity of your home.
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