Bob Vila Radio: Finding the Right Insulation R-Value

If your insulation isn't as effective as it could be, consider upping your R-value.

Autumn’s falling temperatures get many of us thinking about apple cider, trick-or-treating, and… R-values. If your home isn’t well insulated, these chilly nights may remind you to start thinking about upping your R-value.


Listen to BOB VILA ON FINDING THE RIGHT INSULATION R-VALUE or read the text below:

Insulation R Value

Photo: Department of Energy

The R stands for resistance, and R-value is the way we measure how effective insulation is—the higher the R-value of a material, the better it is at insulating your home. But how much does your home need? The answer depends on where you live, how much insulation you already have, and what part of your home you’re insulating.

The Department of Energy has divided the country into climate zones that help you get started. The warmer your climate, the lower your number, so the southern tip of Florida is in Zone 1, and the northern plains and most of Alaska are in Zone 7. Not surprisingly, you need higher R-values in the colder zones.

R-values are given per inch, so the lower the R-value per inch, the thicker the layer of insulation you need. Attics and cathedral ceilings require the most insulation, walls and floors the least.

Bob Vila Radio is a newly launched daily radio spot carried on more than 75 stations around the country (and growing). You can get your daily dose here, by listening to—or reading—Bob’s 60-second home improvement radio tip of the day.