Construction Design-Windows-Climate Matters

This post originally appeared on the Andersen Windows website.

Where do you live?  Is it cold or hot, wet or dry, or something in between?  I live in an area that is considered cold and moist, Northern Minnesota.  My climate is much different than Tucson, Arizona or Kansas City, Missouri.  Because of the climate differences, some of my choices in building materials will be different than if I were located in one of those other areas.

Figure N1101.7 (R301.1) Climate Zones-2021 International Residential Code (IRC)

This climate zone map is published by the American Society of Heating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) and is included in the International Residential Code, Chapter 11, Energy Efficiency.  ASHRAE’s purpose is to create standards of how an engineer or HVAC professional calculates and designs heating, cooling, and ventilations systems to match the insulation, air sealing, and moisture profile of a building.  When designing these often-complicated systems, where the structure is located becomes key, this is the reason the map was created. Continue reading “Construction Design-Windows-Climate Matters”

Window R-Values

This blog post originally appeared on the Alpen Window’s website.  I had the opportunity to tour the Alpen plant recently and was very impressed with the windows they make.  There will be more content featuring Alpen Windows in the near future.

Heat is a funny thing; it wants to move from someplace warm to someplace cold, (the opposite of being a snowbird) and it’ll continue to move until it has reached equilibrium.  In the heat of the summer or cold of winter, that means if we can’t slow the movement of heat, the temperature of the outside will be the same as the temperature of the inside.  This might be 110°F or -25°F, neither is appealing.  Of course, we heat and cool our buildings to maintain comfort, but these systems work best when we’re able to slow this constant march of heat leaving or entering the building, we do this with insulation.

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The Diminishing Return of Insulation

Insulation and R-value go together like hard work and sweat.  R-value is, of course, the resistance to heat flow.  We’ve been taught to think more is better, which is true to a point.  I’m changing the insulation in the wall of my home from R-7, originally installed in 1952, to R-15, and I’m excited to see how much more comfortable my home becomes.  There is an argument that at a certain level, more insulation will cost dollars to save pennies.    At what point do we reach diminishing returns?

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What is R-Value?

This is the first in a series of blogs I’ve written for Rockwool and the R-Class Builder Program.  If you are not already a member, you can join at this link, Rockwool R-Class.  The R-Class program is free.

What is R-value?  I write often about different insulations, how they perform, where they should and shouldn’t be used.  I think this blog post should go back to the basics and talk about what is R-value, how it is calculated, and how much is needed.

This concrete foundation is not insulated, concrete has a much lower resistance to heat flow (R-Value) than the insulated wall. This becomes evident when using thermal imaging. Heat is leaving this structure through the concrete. Insulation will slow this heat loss.

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