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How Does Insulation Work?

Your Sacramento-area home’s insulation can lower cooling and heating costs substantially. That saves money and energy but also enhances your comfort level indoors. If you’re building new or considering insulation replacement this year, knowledge-based decisions can make a difference.

Understanding how insulation works means understanding heat flow and R-values.

Understanding Heat Flow and R-Values

Heat flow throughout your home is driven by three mechanisms:

  • Conduction: The way heat moves through certain materials
  • Convection:The way heat circulates through liquids and gases (why warm air rises)
  • Radiation: The way heat travels on a straight path

Regardless of the material and the mechanism, heat flows from warm spaces to cooler ones until the temperature is stabilized. In a winter chill, heat will flow from your warmer ground floor into your attic. During warm weather, heat will flow from outside to inside. Heating and cooling systems regulate the temperature and comfort. And insulation manages heat flow by providing resistance.

R-value is a rating system for the way insulation manages the heat flow. It’s based on the material, thickness and density. Insulation with a higher R-value is better. When it comes to insulation, you’d think “more is better,” too, so many people opt to add insulation. But a lot depends on the materials involved; some loose-fill insulation may actually compress when another insulation is added. This can result in an unchanged R-value or less airflow management.

If your older insulation is water-damaged or defective, replacement may be your best option. Ultimately, seek professional insulation retrofit or removal and replacement services.

Retrofit Insulation: Good Choices, Better Brands

Attic insulation is probably the top insulation project we have here in North Central California. And the two choices are usually fiberglass batts and blown-in or cellulose blown-in. Lofts are one design trend for new homes that’s here to stay.

Fiberglass Insulation

Fiberglass insulation can be pre-cut batts and rolls or blown-in loose-fill. Fiberglass offers excellent thermal properties, but it’s also more architecturally design-friendly. CertainTeed® and Owens Corning Pink Fiberglas™ are reliable, safe and affordable brands.

Cellulose Insulation

Cellulose insulation offers many benefits:

  • Better heat flow resistance than fiberglass
  • Easier to install
  • Environmentally better (low-energy manufacturing/short-haul transportation)
  • Exceptional fire/moisture resistance
  • Superior noise reduction

Green Fiber is a trusted brand for cellulose blown-in insulation.

Other Insulation Types

Crawl Space, Garage, Subfloor and Wall Insulation

Have you ever wondered why we don’t have basements in California? Some say earthquakes, but when built to code, a California basement is safe. The most likely reason is that we’re below sea level, and flooding would be an issue.

Crawl spaces work better for California residents, and they’re cheaper to build. They’re also magnets for moisture and bugs. Crawl space insulation prevents unwanted pests and blocks air loss.

Insulating the garage or even the garage door alone can cut down on warm, outside air seeping in. And if a family member is using it to work on a project that requires power tools, garage insulation can provide excellent soundproofing.

Subfloor insulation can use various materials and will help your cooling and heating system maximize energy efficiency. Walls are also a major source of energy loss. Wall insulation is needed inside and out California commercial and residential properties.

Gold Star Insulation Saves Money

In addition to reducing energy loss (and monthly bills), federal tax credits are another insulation incentive. Insulation is an investment in your home that pays off quickly.

Call 916-229-8445 or contact us for more information.

Where should you insulate in your home? Check out our interactive infographic:

Products We Install
Energy Audits

Our team can help you save money with a home energy audit and air sealing services.


Our insulation team installs batt and blown-in fiberglass insulation.


Environmentally friendly and effective, cellulose works well in homes and buildings.

Spray Foam

Gold Star Insulation is a leading installer of spray foam insulation in the Sacramento area.

Radiant Barrier

An attic radiant barrier can help keep your home cooler and more comfortable.

Insulation Removal

Gold Star Insulation provides home insulation removal services.

Air Sealing

We are committed to saving you money by sealing your attic—which is the main source of air leaks in the home.

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