In the past few revisions, model building codes have significantly ramped up the thermal envelope requirements for homes. At the same time, homebuyers and owners have become increasingly concerned (and knowledgeable) about managing their energy bills. Often builders and buyers look to the R-value of a home’s insulation as a “proof point” that it will perform as expected – i.e., meeting code and saving energy/money for the homeowners. The higher the R-value the more insulating the material. But how confident can you be that the R-value posted on a label actually reflects the insulative value of the product? Very confident … as long as the product also carries our Lab Certified mark.
While usage of various insulation types has varied over time, the predominate wall insulation in U.S. homes today is still fiberglass batt, either unfaced or faced with Kraft paper that functions as a vapor retarder. Most residential walls use batts with R-13, R-15, or R-19 insulation. The energy efficiency of a home is dependent on many factors, the R-value of the insulation material is a major contributor. Knowing there can be a lot of confusion in the marketplace when it comes to comparing products like batt insulation, the Federal Trade Commission established Rule 460 which governs what insulation manufacturers can advertise about the insulating properties of their products. Rule 460 specifies that the R-value of fiberglass batt insulation must be determined by conducting an ASTM C518 “Standard Test Method for Steady-State Thermal Transmission Properties by Means of the Heat Flow Meter Apparatus” or ASTM C177 “Standard Test Method for Steady-State Heat Flux Measurements and Thermal Transmission Properties by Means of the Guarded-Hot-Plate Apparatus.” (Catchy titles, huh?!)
While many fiberglass insulation manufacturers have their own quality control (QC) labs that test the R-value of their products, CertainTeed, a leading insulation producer, has taken an extra step to ensure their product complies with the FTC requirements. CertainTeed has their residential batt insulation regularly tested and certified for R-value by Home Innovation Research Labs. As part of this process, we periodically send a field rep into the CertainTeed factory to open random bundles of insulation, and cut samples that are sent directly to our full-service product testing laboratory in Maryland, which includes thermal test equipment for ASTM C518 testing – one of the many building product tests we are accredited to provide. This kind of independent, objective testing allows CertainTeed, and all our Lab Certified clients, to be highly confident that the materials they provide builders, and that builders in turn provide homeowners, meet or exceed code requirements and customer expectations.
If you’re an insulation manufacturer looking for that level of confidence in the R-value your product provides, let me know. If you’re a home builder looking to maintain your good reputation and stay in good standing with your local code inspector, make sure you look for Home Innovation’s Lab Certified mark on the insulation and other building products you specify and install.***