Recommended Levels of Insulation – New England

By Todd Fratzel on Energy Conservation, Insulation

Minimum Levels Of Insulation

House Insulation DiagramThe U.S. Department of Energy recommends the following R values of insulation for renovations of homes located in New England. The recommendations are cost-effective levels of insulation for this area.

Recommended R Values for Existing Homes

Ceilings/Attic = R49 to R60
Walls = R11 to R22
Floor = R25 to R30
Basement / Crawl Space Walls = R11 to R19

Energy Code Regulations

Most states (NH for sure) require that new homes that are built meet certain energy code minimum values. The minimum values are based on the recommendations for the U.S. Department of Energy. In NH, the New Hampshire Public Utilities Commission oversees the compliance of the state energy code requirements.

Here in NH a building’s insulation performance is actually evaluated based on the entire system including insulation, windows, doors and HVAC components. For new construction the structure must be evaluated using the Energy Code in order to determine if the proposed building has sufficient insulation. Here in NH the Energy Code requires new construction and additions to be certified by a Professional Engineer or Architect. Otherwise the structure can be checked using the states REScheck software and submitted to the State for approval.

Most states, towns and government bodies require that the energy code compliance be issued as part of the building permit process. This ensures that the minimum energy code requirements are met and home owners are getting what they pay for.

About the author

Todd Fratzel

I'm full time builder for a large construction company in New Hampshire. I run their design-build division that specializes in custom homes, commercial design-build projects and sub-divisions. I'm also a licensed civil and structural engineer with extensive experience in civil and structural design and home construction. My hope is that I can share my experience in the home construction, home improvement and home renovation profession with other builders and home owners. I'm also the Editor-in-Chief and Founder of Tool Box Buzz. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions, suggestions or you'd like to inquire about advertising on this site.

All posts by Todd »

Not what you're looking for?

Search for more articles here. Enter keywords like, 'insulation' or 'kitchens' etc to find your topic.


  1. Brent says:

    What R level of basement insulation is required in Massachusetts?

    • Todd Fratzel says:

      Brent – Not sure, here in NH it’s not a fixed level, it depends on a full rating of the entire house including the HVAC and windows. We use a software program that the State provides called ResCheck

  2. Kathryn Hughes says:

    Do we have to put insulation between the basement and first floor?

  3. Dawn Kozlik says:

    What would you recommend for vapor barriers? Do you suggest that a floor insulation be backed?

  4. Chris says:


    I live in NH and I am interested in finishing my basement. Could you please tell me what minimum R value of insulation would be needed to put up against the poured foundation wall? I plan on using XPS foam board, 2″ with a R value of 10 and was wondering if that would be enough.

    • Todd Fratzel says:

      In NH the energy code doesn’t give us a minimum R value, it’s based on the entire house insulation, windows, and heating/cooling system using REScheck software. Typically 2″ in a basement is sufficient.

  5. Andy Weinmann says:

    Hi Todd,

    We have a small (16×24) cabin we’re building in NH with a full walkout basement. We did the roof rafters with 2x8s 16″ OC and we installed really good plastic vents (not styrofoam) from the soffits up to the ridge (1″ airspace). It’s a cathedral style ceiling. What insulation would be best in this application? I can maybe try to stuff R-30 or R-30C in there but I’m concerned it would get really compressed. I’ve seen Owens Corning’s chart on compression and loss of R value. Would it be better to use R-21 in there?



    • Todd Fratzel says:

      Are you living in this full time? 2×8 is pretty small by todays framing standards. Homes we build here are typically 2×12 so we have lots of room for insulation. We then do one of two options. Either spray foam (best solution and a really good investment), or we create the airspace by installing a layer of 2″ foam board leaving an air space, then fill the remaining space with fiberglass insulation. With a 2×8 you’re really lacking the space so I’d stick with spray foam, no vents (hot roof). Call a reputable insulation contractor and go over options.

  6. Roxane Hoffmann says:

    Hi Todd,
    My house is over the bay and I want to prevent the 4” pvc drain pipes which are exposed under the house from freezing. We plan on being there occasionally so we don’t want to completely winterize. What product do you recommend? Heat tape might not be feasible. Thanks

  7. Pete Smith says:

    I’m finishing an attic in NW Massachusetts. The floor has already had insulation blown in by MassSave, so I am wondering what insulation to use in the walls and ceiling (roof), where the bays are irregularly spaced and depths vary. There will be electric heat installed in the space, ultimately. Thanks.

  8. Eddie says:

    I have 2x8x24′ 2′ OC should I be worried about the weight of the spray foam in the ceiling joist bays????

    • Todd Fratzel says:

      That’s an interesting question. 2×8 by today’s standard is quite small. I guess it would depend on the roof pitch, other loading, type of roofing material, etc.

Leave a comment

Be nice. Keep it clean. Stay on topic. No spam.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Copyright © 2009-2023 Front Steps Media, LLC. All Rights Reserved. Home Construction & Improvement™ is a Trademark of Front Steps Media, LLC.