Ever wonder why your electric bill or gas tab tends to sky rocket over the winter? The problem could be related to poor insulation. Before you dismiss the issue with a wave of your hand, we urge you to take a second glance at the physics behind your thermal dilemma.

Did you know that most insulating materials have an R value? The R value is a unit of measurement that accounts for the thermal resistance of an insulating material. In other words, it measures the capacity of a material to resist heat flow. A higher R value is generally an indicator of a better insulating material and could save you a fair amount on your gas bill. R values are measured based on the thickness of your insulating material.

Today’s modern homes are not just simple homes constructed solely with gable roofs and rectangular walls. With all the intricate detail that goes into building contemporary homes and the modern frameworks that make each home unique, fiberglass insulation might not be the ideal choice. Spray foam has a much higher R value per inch and will prevent edge gaps by filling in all the crevices. Spray foam expands as you fill in the framing cavity and seals in all the air gaps.

Let’s look at the West River project undertaken by The Ehrmin Company. Prior to utilizing foam as their choice of insulating material, West River was indeed using foil faced insulation with an R value of R-11. Yikes! That couldn’t have been a very pleasant experience when it was time to take care of those heating and cooling bills. Certainly not when you have the option of replacing a poor insulating material with a highly efficient one – which is precisely what the Ehrmin Company did. They replaced the foil faced R-11 insulation with R-22 closed foam insulation. The discrepancy was astounding with a difference in the U factor of 0.1 for the R-11 and 0.045 for the R-22. The U value is a measure of how efficient a material functions as an insulator and is simply calculated as the inverse R value ( U=1/R). U values can range anywhere from 0 to 1 with a low value indicative of the material working as a better thermal insulator.

If you’re one of those skeptics that must determine the R value for yourself, check out:

www.residentialenergydynamics.com/

What does all this mean? It means that your insulation could save you money long term on your heating bill. You could be losing out on a fair amount of heat during those cold winter months just because of convective air loops and poor insulating materials. Spray foam insulation can help with that.

If you’re curious about the efficiency of certain SPF’s (spray polyurethane foam) with variable thicknesses, have a glimpse at the chart below. Clearly, increased thicknesses are an indicator of a greater resistance to heat flow with relatively comparable efficiencies after the 2” SPF thicknesses for the Bayseal CC X SPF. The efficiencies appear to be markedly similar with a 1-2 % difference in efficiency for the Bayseal OC SPF’s at thicknesses above 3”.

While spray foam insulation does have its advantages, if not installed properly, you could have a nightmare situation on your hands. Attempting this project on your own or with an amateur could result in a can of worms, especially if you need access to certain areas of your home that have been covered with spray foam insulation. Spray foam insulation (when installed improperly) can result in an array of health issues if the chemicals in the foam haven't been properly cured.

If you are considering spray foam insulation, be sure to enlist the help of a certified professional. You will also want to make sure you have proper accommodations for at-least 24 hours as you will probably be asked to stay out of your home until the job has been completed.