R-value is the most common method of labeling the thermal performance of an insulation product. However, labeled R-value often does not reflect how well an insulation system will perform in the real world. Fiberglass insulation in particular has a major performance gap between its labeled and installed R-value.
The R-value rating assigned to insulation products is measured under laboratory conditions that does not reflect the real-world environmental conditions that buildings are exposed to. R-value measurements are derived from small, meticulously prepared laboratory samples that are tested in an airtight hot box that does not introduce any air movement or convective airflow. In reality building envelopes are constantly exposed to air infiltration and temperature swings, especially in northern climates. Real-world testing consistently proves that the current method of labeling insulation performance is extremely flawed. Studies by the EPA and Oak Ridge National laboratories have shown that fiberglass insulation systems commonly perform at less than 50% of labeled R-value.
There are many reasons why fiberglass insulation performs so poorly in northern climates. Fiberglass is a porous material that relies on air pockets trapped between minute glass rods to stop heat transfer. The ability for air to move freely through fiberglass is what makes it such an ideal material for furnace filter. Unfortunately, when air moves around so does heat, and this property is the primary reason that fiberglass cannot perform at it’s labeled R-value outside of the laboratory and in real world conditions. During the winter, hot air rises and cold air falls within the fiberglass creating a convective loop that transfers heat from the inside to the outside, greatly undermining the thermal efficiency of the insulation. This loss of thermal performance and R-value becomes magnified the lower the outside temperature drops and also by the smallest compressions and gaps in the fiberglass.
In contrast to fiberglass, our seamless insulation system forms an air barrier that eliminates convection and stops thermal heat loss in its tracks. As you may have guessed, this means the same thickness of our insulation will have greater thermal performance than fiberglass. Our spray-applied products create their own cellular vacuum, stopping air movement or thermal degrading convective loops from penetrating the cavity. EnergySeal’s seamless system R-values are unaffected by building movement, wind pressure, or climate temperature extremes. Even when sprayed at an R-13 our hybrid insulation system has been documented to outperform a high-density R-30 fiberglass batt. Don’t waste money paying for R-value and performance that you aren’t getting. Choosing EnergySeal will ensure that your money is spent on real performance that will protect your building investment and pay for itself over and over.