State and local building codes typically include minimum insulation requirements, but your energy-efficient home will likely exceed those mandates. To optimize energy efficiency, you should also consider the interaction between the insulation and other building components. This strategy is known as the whole-house systems design approach. If you would like to maximize the energy efficiency of your new home, consider ultra-efficient home design or purchasing a new Energy Star home or a Zero Energy Ready Home.
It is more cost-effective to add insulation during construction than to retrofit it after the house is finished. To properly insulate a new home, you’ll need to know where to insulate and the recommended R-values for each of those areas. Use the Home Energy Saver tool to determine where you need to insulate and the recommended R-values based on your climate, type of heating and cooling system, etc.
Once you know where you need to insulate and the recommended R-values, review our information on the types of insulation to help you decide what type to use and where. Before you insulate a new home, you also need to properly air seal it and consider moisture control. Energy losses due to air leakage can be greater than the conductive losses in a well-insulated home.
In most climates, you will save money and energy when you build a new home or addition if you install a combination of cavity insulation and insulated sheathing. Reduce exterior wall leaks by taping the joints of exterior sheathing and caulking and sealing exterior walls. Use tapes and adhesives that are designed for this application since they need to last many years and are nearly impossible to replace. Cavity fibrous or cellulose insulation can be installed at levels up to R-15 in a 2-inch x 4-inch wall and up to R-21 in a 2 inch x 6-inch wall. R-values can be higher for foam insulation and other advanced insulation systems.
Consider products that provide both insulation and structural support, such as structural insulated panels (SIPs), and masonry products like insulating concrete forms.
You should consider attic or roof radiant barriers (in hot climates), reflective insulation, and foundation insulation for new home construction. Check with your contractor for more information about these options.
Choose a team of local building professionals familiar with energy-efficient home construction in your area. The performance of insulation is very dependent on the quality of the installlation; contractors that are familiar with the products you are considering will increase the likelihood that they will be installed properly.