Before we scrutinize Icynene, let's set the context with some background in insulation. We know it's supposed to reduce the movement of air between indoors and outdoors, but how do we know which insulations are most efficient? The effectiveness of each kind of insulation is measured by an industry standard: R-value. R-value conveys how successful a substance is at minimizing the transfer of heat. The higher the R-value, the better the insulation is. A substance's R-value is determined by its components, thickness and compactness. The interaction among the properties is essential. It won't matter how thick an insulator is if warm air can easily flow through the material.
R-values can be compared by the inch, although keep in mind that several inches of insulation are usually installed. For instance, that old standby, fiberglass batting, has an initial R-value of 3.14 to 4.3 per inch [source: ColoradoENERGY]. Compare that to blown cellulose, another popular choice, which runs between 3.13 to 3.7 per inch [source: ColoradoENERGY]. Why initial value? R-value can be reduced by outside influences, such as expertise of installation and settling over time.
So what R-value is right for your home? And what type of insulation is required? To determine these things, you need to ask yourself several questions, including:
- What's your climate? Obviously, in a location where winter temperatures regularly fall below freezing, a building will require more effective insulation than a home situated where it's typically mild and sunny.
- What is your building layout? Insulating needs will vary depending upon the number of stories. What kind of basement do you have? Do you even have a basement? Do you have gorgeous cathedral ceilings?
- What type of heating and cooling system do you have? Gas? Electric? Air conditioning or open windows? How efficient are these systems?
- What are the heating and cooling costs like in your area? Are your bills on the high end, or are you one of the lucky ones?
- What stage of the process are you in? Are you planning insulation for a new structure, or do you want to improve what already exists?
- What are the costs of the various insulations in your area?
Keep these considerations in mind as you move on to the next page to tackle Icynene.