As we ring in the New Year, many people are planning ways to improve their health, business, education and homes. For many people home improvements need to provide some type of improvement that can be noticed on the financial bottom line. Energy savings is the most obvious. Everyone can feel the difference between a tile floor and carpet in the winter, but just how much money can one expect to save by choosing carpet? The answer must be answered by looking at both the carpet and the pad.
First of all the carpet; Carpet does not provide as much insulation value as the pad, but it does provide some. Insulating value, which is measured in R factors or R-values. The R-value is basically a ratio that measures the difference in heat across an insulator. Carpet fibers are natural insulators. Because they are fluffy, they trap air in their fibers and this makes them better insulators than tile or wood. The Carpet Institute of Australia has published a report that rates the R-value of concrete at 0.07, plywood at 0.08, and carpet at 0.18. This means that carpet is a better insulator than either wood or concrete by twice the amount. The thicker a carpet the better it insulates. The report goes on to provide test results of a 5mm carpet and a 10mm carpet. The 10mm carpet improves the energy savings by almost 33%. Another report provided by the Radiant Panel Association rates a ½" carpet at 1.4 R-value. A ½" carpet is slightly thicker than the 10mm carpet tested by the Carpet Institute of Australia. Either figure confirms that carpet has a lot of value in saving energy. However, the picture really improves when we look at the pad or cushion.
Carpet pad has even better R-value ratings than the carpet itself. Not all carpet pads are alike, but the most common pad is made from bonded urethane. The bonded urethane pad is easily identified by the chunks of foam in its composition. The Radiant Panel report gives an R-value for ½" bonded urethane pad to be 2.09. So if you combine the ½" pad with the ½" carpet the R-value is now 3.49. To put all that into perspective, regular fiberglass insulation about 1 cm thick has an R-value of.22 which means that 15.8cm of fiberglass insulation equals the R value of a ½" carpet and ½" pad.
If your home improvements include the floors and you're interested in improving your energy bill, than you might want to give carpet and pad a good look. Un-insulated floors account for about 10-20% of the heat lost from a room. Therefore, good insulation along with carpet might be one for the most energy efficient home improvement projects you can do.