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By Robert Pratt | Broker in Chicago, IL

Green Tip: What is Your Chicago Home’s R Factor?

Today's Green Tip has to do with a term that’s been around for awhile, but has recently popped up more often as the Green Movement picks up steam. To put it simply, "R Factor" or "R Value" is a rating for the insulation in your home. Your floor has an R Factor, your ceiling has one and your walls do as well. The higher the number, the better the insulation. This number comes up more frequently when dealing with new construction and gut rehab homes. 


What is a good R Factor?


Keeping with the trend of green building efforts, the Department of Energy developed new guidelines a few years ago for insulation and what the most economic insulation level is for your home. Click here to navigate through a helpful program that will ask you a few questions about your current or prospective home. By evaluating the information you input, the website produces recommendations for what your R Factor should be.


You will find a link to the Department of Energy's Insulation Fact Sheet here. The Fact Sheet will answer many of your questions about different types of insulation, what to look for when buying a new home, and how to install new insulation in your existing home. 


If your home’s energy efficiency is on your mind, insulation should be at the top of the list. Since insulation is directly related to how well your home retains the hot and cold air you pay to pump into it, the R Factor has a direct impact on your pocket book as well. Regardless of what the Department of Energy recommends for your R Factor, a higher rating is always better – for energy conservation and money conservation!


Keep checking back with the Dream Town Blog for more green tips and other helpful information about Chicago home buying, selling, investing and more!


By Daniel Cullen,  Tue Jan 19 2010, 18:20
OMG!!! What a crock! R-value alone is a very misleading and inadequate way to try and understand how your prospective home will behave with regard to energy efficiency and indoor comfort.

I find it distressing that Realtors are trying to become fonts of information on all things Green. There are so many other factors involved in the energy efficiency of a new or re-sale home that the above post is really a simplistic disservice to home owners and home buyers.

There is no mention of building shell leakage, stack effect, air infiltration/exfiltration, solar heat gain, climate specific wall assemblies, etc. It is obvious that this Dreamtown Realtor has little knowledge of the field and is trying to horn in on a green wave of b.s. to grab clients!

Anyone who is serious about buying or living in a green home should contact an experienced energy auditor or a home inspector with training in energy efficiency. Specific questions are welcome and I can be reached at inspectordan at gmail dot com.

Be green for real, don't fall victim to 'green-washing'!
By Ross Neag,  Tue Jan 19 2010, 20:58
As Darth "Green light saber" Vader may have put it: The ability to increase R Values is insignificant next to the power of the Force. And what Force may we interpolate that to be? Several...

R Value only rates a component's ability to resist heat flow. And that heat flow can come in one of three ways: convenction, radiation or conduction. To simply state increasing R value is the number one way to improve your home's performance is akin to telling me that only changing my car's oil every 3000 miles will make it run forever. Just as any good medical or mental health professional will tell you, there are SEVERAL and MULTIPLE factors to improve your health and your home is no different. There are several systems running at any given time which all alter the building pressure, airflow, performance and safety.

As little as 10% poor placement of the highest rated R value insulation can lower the remaining insulation's net R value by as much as 40%. Quality installations of LESSER R value products can and will outperform the best insulation that is amateurishly installed. Air sealing, pressure boundaries, established thermal boundaries--among many others--all must be accounted for to maximize insulation performance and increase comfort. I'd love to go on but I'll save it for another billboard. Hire qualified people for energy work, your life may depend on it. And no, that is not a joke.
By John Shaterian,  Tue Jan 26 2010, 11:51
"Regardless of what the Department of Energy recommends for your R Factor, a higher rating is always better – for energy conservation and money conservation" - For real? I bet this person would say an energy efficient window is energy efficient because it has an Energy Star sticker on it! How was it installed? Who knows and who cares! These people will be sifted out of the green economy.
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