Insulation is arguably the most important of all components used to construct your home, but it is also the most overlooked since it is mostly hidden from view. If your home was a football team, the insulation would be its offensive line, blocking the defense (the outside hot/cold air) from penetrating the backfield (conditioned space) and sacking the quarterback (the homeowner) and making sure you are comfortable “in the pocket”.
When you watch a football game, you only notice the offensive line when they are not working together, the same can be said about insulation. If your insulation is not installed correctly, your home will be considerably less comfortable than it could be. A poorly insulated wall cavity is like an offensive lineman taking a misstep and allowing that big defensive end of cold air to burst through sacking the temperatures of your home. It doesn’t matter how amazing that granite bar top looks if it’s too cold in your basement to have buddies over to watch the big game. A well-insulated home will keep those outside forces at bay and allows your “skill players” (heating and air equipment, wood floors, etc.) to shine!
You may ask how could I know if my future home’s insulation will be up for the challenge? When you build a Certified High Performance Home you can rest easier knowing that your home’s insulation was inspected by a certified Home Energy Rater and graded appropriately. Each HERS rated home has an insulation and air sealing inspection to make sure your thermal barrier is aligned and ready to block out the elements. If the insulation is not up to par, the HERS rater will inform the builder of where the can improve and close the gaps in the line.
Insulation is graded at three different levels, Grade I, Grade II, and Grade III. The grade is given depending if there are noticeable gaps in the installation, it is noticeably compressed, or the cavity is not completely filled. Gaps in the insulation allow cold air to flow around the barrier. Compressed insulation does not allow the insulation to perform to its R-value (or resistance to air flow, the higher the R-value the longer it takes for air to flow through). If insulation is compressed it will not operate to its full capabilities to resist outside air and will allow it to penetrate the home at a much faster rate.