Updated September 2022
Understanding and measuring Uvalues has become increasingly important as we aim to improve the sustainability and performance of our buildings.
What is a UValue?
UValue – is the measure of the overall rate of heat transfer, by all mechanisms under standard conditions, through a particular section of construction.
In other words, a Uvalue is used to measure how well or how badly a component transmits heat from the inside to the outside. The slower or more difficult it is for heat to transfer through the component, the lower the Uvalue. This means that we are looking for a lower Uvalue.
The lower the Uvalue the better.
When we talk about a component, we can mean a pane of glass, a timber door, or a complete building assembly such as a cavity wall. We can work out how much heat passes through each element of the building assembly and determine the Uvalue based on the amount of energy lost through a square metre of material.
Don’t forget you can download our handy guide by clicking on the button below:
What are the units for UValues?
The UValue is measured in W/m² K
This is broken down as: The rate of heat flow (in Watts) through 1m² of a structure when there is a temperature difference across the structure of 1 degree (K or ˚C)
Example:
Wall 1 with UValue of 0.3 W/m2 K will lose heat at half the rate of Wall 2 which has a UValue of 0.6 W/m2 K
So, the LOWER the UValue, the BETTER.
The lower the uvalue the more efficient the construction is at keeping heat flow through the structure to a minimum.
Are Uvalues important in the Building Regulations Approved Document Part L?
What UValues do you need for Building Regulations?

Uvalue requirement External Walls 0.18 W/m²K

Uvalue requirement Party Walls 0.0 W/m²K

Uvalue requirement Floor 0.13 W/m²K

Uvalue requirement Roof 0.11 W/m²K

Uvalue requirement Windows (whole window Uvalue) 1.2 W/m²K
UValue Calculator:
There are a few good uvalue calculators online, that if you are short on time are worth checking out. Some are for calculating any build up, where as others have been developed by insulation manufacturers that specifically deal with their own products.
Scroll down to view our recommended Online Uvalue calculators.
How to calculate a uvalue
Although online uvalue calculators are really useful, and some more intelligent modelling software will calculate the uvalue for you, it is worth learning how to do it yourself, just in case it pops up in an exam. After all, it is pretty simple when you know how.
To calculate the uvalue of a particular part of the building construction you need to know a little about each element of the construction.
Thermal Resistance (R)
Uvalues are calculated from the thermal resistances of the parts making up a particular part of the structure. Transmission of heat is opposed in varying amounts dependent on material and surface. Thermal Resistance is defined as a measure of the opposition to heat transfer offered by a particular component in a building element.
In order to calculate thermal resistance, you must know the thickness of the material and the Thermal Conductivity (K) value. These values can be found in the Metric Handbook, or the Architects Pocket Book (the Architects Pocket Book is extremely useful, I would recommend every architecture student has a copy of this book).
R=d/k
Where
R= Thermal Resistance (m2K/W)
d= Thickness of material (in Metres – very important)
k= thermal conductivity of the material (W/m K)
You must know the thermal resistance (R) in order to calculate the uvalue. If you are specifying standard products it is often easy to find the resistance values for these elements. Sometimes it is worth having a look at specific manufacturers websites for these details.
Total Resistance (Rt)
Ra is airspace cavity and values for this can also be found in Architects Pocket Book.
How do you know the Rso and Rsi Value?
Rso is the outside surface resistance, and Rsi is the inside surface resistance. These values are specified in the Architects Pocket Book as:
UValue
Now you have your Rt value, the calculation is simple, one divided by the Rt. There you have your UValue.
Other helpful bits:
BRE Guide to UValues
Calculations of area weighted Uvalues
Online Uvalue calculators:
Reference:
McMullan, R. 2007. Environmental Science in Building
Don’t forget you can download our handy guide by clicking on the button below:
Easy to understand even by a lay man who doesn’t have the subject knowledge. Explanation simple & precise
What is the difference between m2 KW and W/m2K if we have an thermal value of 0.090m2KW what does this equate to re W/m2K
to have a maximum ‘U’ value of 0.28 W/m2K and to be taken to the underside of the first floor boarding. B3. L1B
how would you transpose this equation to make the density of a given material the subject so you could obtain a specific U value
This article was very intuitive and helpful about UValue. Thank you for sharing, very well explanation.
hi, you mention above ‘Uvalue requirement Party Walls 0.0 W/m²K’ i have been informed by building control that if the adjoining units are provided with heating and in different tenancies the wall needs to achieve 0.55 W/m²K, i can’t see where it says this but as they sign it off, i’m going with it. BTW this is for Wales mind. cheers
over what time period is the U value calculated?
I’ve read through Brian’s calculation and I don’t understand the area weighted comparisons.
W/m2K multiplied by m2 should result in W/K not W/m2.
Are windows part of the wall, please? When you calculate the average for the wall, do you have to include the windows? So if they are 1.4, say, then does the rest of the wall have to be below 0.18 to compensate. Or are these separate? Thanks
The U values you are specifying are out of date since June 2022 when the 2021 AD part L1 came out
Thank you Antony, we are in the process of updating the article, it should be online very soon.
Note the research done by Historic England performed on various, soft red brick has shown the standard figures of Uvalue are overestimated by up to 3 times the insitu, measured values on historic properties.
How does the U value affect the performance of a building component. For instance if out side temperature is 5 degree Celsius, and I have a wall with a U value of 0.27 W/m2K, what will be the internal temperature?
@MichaelOsafo it’s not that simple. The internal temperature is defined by the amount of heat energy you put into the inside. With no heating, the inside will be 5 degrees too. What U value tells you is the walls lose 0.27 watts per square meter per degree of temperature difference between inside and outside. Work out the area of the walls (m2), the temp difference (K) and do area x tempdiff x U to know how much energy is lost through the wall – this is how much energy you must replace to maintain the temperature difference
Energy comes as mass or radiation according to Mr. Einstein and the “U” value calculations recognise this as the surface transmission of inside and outside surfaces. What happens in between is essentially ‘conductance’ through the material which is measured by the reciprocal of the ‘R’ value. The ‘R’ value is the speed of sound through the material and is considerably slower than the speed of light . Air having little mass does not conduct well but will account for considerable amounts of lost energy if it moves from inside to outside. The inside air will have little affect on the mass of the internal surfaces so these should have a low “U” value whereas the rest of the construction should RESIST the passage of radiation. DISCUSS
@Barrie Moore, this is true IF there are no airchanges, however airchanges would also need to be factored in. I really like the way you have explained the conductance element of the u values. thank you.