Insulating your home is one the easiest and least expensive ways to dramatically cut your power bills. In the modern world, there are three basic types of homes as defined by their level of insulation: leaky houses, modern houses, and passive houses.
A leaky house is poorly insulated, with an uninsulated floor and single glazed windows. Many older homes that have not been converted are leaky houses, with correspondingly large power bills. The modern house has average insulation, double glazed windows, and insulation in the floor. Regulating its temperature requires roughly half the power of regulating a leaky house. A passive house is airtight, has triple glazed windows, and uses the highest quality insulation throughout. Passive houses use approximately 10 percent of the power that modern houses require.
While simple insulation will not convert a leaky house to a passive house, it is easy to see the vital role that insulation plays in saving you money on power bills.Here is what you need to know how to improve your home’s insulation.
More properly termed “thermal insulation,” insulation is material that minimizes heat transfer. It creates a barrier between areas that have extremely different temperatures, because heat tends to move from warmer regions to colder regions, seeking equilibrium. By placing a barrier that heat cannot easily cross, you can retain more heat inside your home during the winter, and keep the heat out during the summer. Still air is a good insulator, so insulation materials generally contain millions of trapped pockets of air.
All insulation has an R-value. This can be defined as the material’s resistance to heat transfer—that is, how well the insulation performs its job as a barrier material. R-value is determined by several factors including the material itself, its thickness, how many air pockets it contains, and whether it is encased in an additional barrier material. Although other factors come into play, including your home’s construction and the types of heat transfer at work, a good rule of thumb is that the higher the R-value, the better the insulation.
Types of Insulation
Batt or blanket insulation is extremely popular. It can be installed in ceilings, floors, and walls, including foundation walls. It is made from many different materials, including natural fibers, plastic, fiberglass, or mineral wool.
Both blown insulation and spray insulation are normally installed in enclosed wall or floor cavities, or along unfinished attic floors. Blown insulation is normally made from fiberglass, mineral wool, or cellulose, while spray insulation is made from foaming chemical compounds.
Rigid board insulation can be installed in virtually any space with enough room for the panels. It is usually made from polystyrene, polyurethane, or similar materials.
Selecting the right type of insulation for your project is a complex decision based on a myriad of factors including the average ambient temperature in your region, the amount of available space in the areas you want to insulate, the R-value of the material, and your personal preferences. It is best to consult with an insulation professional who can help you sort through the options and choose the right insulation for your needs.
Where to Install Insulation
The attic is arguably the best place to begin a new insulation project. It is easy to access and cost-effective to insulate, and the immediate savings you will realize can be significant. Since hot air rises, insulating the attic is an excellent way to quickly reduce heat loss.
Insulating the exterior walls is important, but it can be tricky. If no insulation currently exists, it is fairly easy for an experienced professional to drill small holes and blow or spray insulation between the studs. If you already have insulation, though, and want to increase the R-value, you will need to tear into the walls. If you have siding, you might want to wait until the siding is ready for replacement and install rigid insulation beneath the new siding.
Although heat rises, your home can also lose quite a bit of heat through the bottom floor. In the summer, heat can come up through the floor as well. Insulating your basement walls and/or ceiling can result in a real energy savings.
Installing insulation is a bit complex, but the benefits are well worth the trouble. Consult with an insulation professional to decide what areas to insulate and which materials to use.
Jim’s Heating & Cooling is a trusted provider of air conditioning and heating in the greater Adelaide region of Australia. We offer a wide range of heating and cooling solutions, along with special discounts and financing offers. Call us locally on 131 546 now or request a quote to get started!