How to approach tiny home insulation
If you don’t know much about a tiny home’s insulation, how do you approach this crucial issue?
One of the things that you need to keep in mind is — heat rises. Therefore, make sure that your insulation plan reflects that. Ensure that the thickest layers of insulation are placed on the tiny house ceiling; conversely, the floor will require the thinnest layers, and the walls are somewhere in between.
Side note: because heat rises, you take a chance hotboxing your loft. This is why radiant floor heat is the perfect heating option for a tiny house. Radiant heat stays on the floor and is attracted to “things” (like legs, feet, ankles, hands), not air.
Also, ensure that the proper insulation practices are done while you’re still planning the construction of your home. That’s a necessity because you want to be certain that you have enough space for the ceiling, floors, and walls — along with the considerations regarding your other subjective conditions that you need to keep in mind.
If you’re planning on a THOW — (tiny house on wheels) its insulation issues are entirely different compared to a tiny house created with a solid foundation.
However, that’s not just a given; owners and engineers put a lot of hard work into making sure that tiny houses’ insulation performs its function well. And among other things, that means choosing the most effective type of insulation for your particular situation. Don’t worry if you don’t know anything about this — after all, that’s precisely what we’re going to help you with!
If you want to truly get your money’s worth from your tiny house heating and cooling, splurge for the best possible insulation plan for your new small household.
Thickness is the number one metric when it comes to roof insulation.
Because of the way the tiny house is structured, roof insulation is flexible and forgiving. Adding extra thickness to the roof of your tiny house does not mean that you need to sacrifice any living space. Instead, you’ll be able to enjoy perfect comfort as you make the insulation thicker.
A vertical roof means that you can freely use more affordable and effective types of insulation. The thickness is the number one metric when it comes to roof insulation; it’s what “traps” the circulating heat in your home as it begins to rise.
However, roof insulation thickness could be problematic for a THOW due to the height limitations (THOW builders trying to maximize headspace in the tiny home).
Floor insulation is crucial for the energy efficiency of heating and cooling in any tiny house. You don’t want the surface that your tiny home is situated on to interfere with the flooring insulation.
For Tiny House on Wheels — ensure that the floor insulation fits the trailer’s frame. You cannot count on having as much space for thickness in your insulation material, unlike roof insulation. Keeping that in mind — floor insulation needs to be of a sufficient degree of quality.
The benefit of radiant floor heat in a tiny home or RV
One of the most important benefits of radiant floor heat in a tiny home or RV is moisture management. Radiant floor heat film keeps the flooring, subfloor, and trailer dry. Free from the growth of mold and mildew. Plus, condensation in your tiny home is drastically reduced. Radiant floor heat is a sound way to keep your tiny house warm and dry.
Did you know…Insulation experts measure the effectiveness of insulation by the R-value.
This value actually provides an insight into the physics of thermal resistance in your insulation. The higher R-value, the better degree of thermal resistance.
When it comes to the best practices regarding insulation in tiny homes, we recommend sticking to materials that have the highest possible R-values that you can get. Because space is a scarce commodity inside a tiny house, don’t choose insulation that takes up a lot of space with its thickness.
Insulation ratings are measured in R-values per inch of thickness. An R-value tells you how well a type of insulation can keep heat from leaving or entering your home. Insulation R-values vary based on the type, thickness and density of the insulation material. Typically, a higher insulation R rating means better climate control and better energy efficiency for your home. A higher insulation R-value usually means a higher price point as well.
For every type and material of insulation, check the R-value per inch of thickness that the manufacturer has listed. In general, the insulation’s method of installation can give you an idea of how it compares to other types of insulation.
Here are the installation methods from lowest to highest average R-value per inch:
- Blown-in (or loose-fill) insulation
- Insulation blankets (batts and rolls)
- Spray foam insulation
- Foam board insulation
Note that the material the insulation is made from will change the R-value as well.
Tip: Radiant barriers and vapor barriers are not rated by R-values.
– Home Depot
Also, it would help if you remembered that R-value isn’t an ever-present constant. In reality, this value is prone to shifting as time goes on. There are plenty of factors that can reduce thermal resistance efficiency in your insulation, such as accumulated moisture, temperature shifts, and, most importantly, age.
Picking the right insulation in terms of climate
Your home doesn’t always need the highest R-value insulation. The R-value your insulation needs depends on your local climate.
The map above shows each region of the U.S. and the Department of Energy’s corresponding climate zone. Once you find your home’s zone on this map, you can use the below insulation R-value chart to determine the minimum R-value your insulation should have.
The kind of insulation that you’ll pick doesn’t just depend on the specifics of your home. Actually, they also depend on where your tiny home is situated. In other words, the home’s geographical location and its accompanying climate are certain to play huge roles in this.
While consulting someone about your tiny home insulation in the United States, check which of the eight US climate zones you are in, and then choose the appropriate type of material for the insulation. There are different recommended R-values for each of them.
Find your zone on the map, and then use the above insulation R-value chart to determine the insulation level you need to properly insulate your attic, walls, floors, and crawlspaces.
These R-values are a sum, meaning this should be the total R-value once you add up the insulation’s entire depth. For example, if you have a type of insulation with an R-value of R-5 per inch of thickness, you will need a depth of 6-inches of this insulation installed in your attic to reach R-30 if you live in Zones 2 or 3.
Note from this chart that the ideal R-value differs for each part of your home. The ideal attic insulation R-value is different than the ideal wall insulation R-value. Make sure your home is properly insulated in all these locations.
Selecting the right insulation for your tiny home isn’t easy. On the one hand, energy efficiency is less of a problem than with regular homes. On the other, you have less space to achieve a high R-Value. Balancing these factors will be crucial to the success of your tiny house construction endeavor!