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Insulate yourself from the world


Next time you think about sustainable design, start with the insulation in your house. Insulation is what keeps the interior of buildings and homes from feeling the effects of the outside temperature. In an Iowa winter for example, the temperature inside a home will naturally decrease because of the effects of a lower outside temperature. When the inside temperature decreases, the thermostat senses the decrease and sends a message to the furnace systems to heat air and then push it through metal ducts to make people feel comfortable.

The greater the amount of insulation, the less the inside is effected by the outside temperature. In fact, Superinsulation is defined as at least an R-Value of 40 in the walls and an R-value of 60 in the roof. R-Value is a measurement of the resistance to heat flow of insulation. The higher the number, the better the insulation resists heat flow.


The Iowa Building Code requires residential construction have at least an R 20 for walls and R 38 for roofs. As compared to superinsulated construction, what gets built (since the code usually becomes the standard) has a much lower R value.


To meet the Iowa Code, the walls require a 6” fiberglas batt which has an R value of 19. Other parts of the wall get the overall R above 20. A 12” fiberglas batt has an R value of 38 for the roof or attic. Super insulated homes use foam insulation for walls because of the higher efficiency per inch as compared with batt insulation. Spray foam insulation is nearly 3 times more efficient per inch so in the same space a fiberglas batt provides R19, spray foam provides R44.

Remember, the closer you get to super insulated standards, the less energy it will take to keep your house comfortable.

See other blogs featuring sustainable construction.

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