The Importance Of Home Insulation
Energy cost constitutes a sizeable amount of any household’s fixed cost. Did you know properly insulating your home could significantly lower this cost? Sure. A lot of energy is consumed either heating or cooling the home. So with proper insulation, energy is conserved thereby lowering energy cost.
Home insulation entails the installation of barriers on different parts of the house to prevent heat leakage out of or into the house. The idea is to prevent the mixing of the interior and exterior air which results in heat imbalance. This is well understood in light of the buoyancy principle. Heat cannot move into or out of the house unless there is a temperature change which is caused by mixing of air.
Materials like cellulose, fiberglass, polystyrene and mineral wool are used as insulators. They are categorized in terms of their ability to resist the flow of heat, what is denoted in R-values. The higher a material’s R-value a better an insulator it is. Generally, thicker materials have high R-values.
Benefits/ importance of insulating your home
- Enhances energy conservation which translates to lower energy cost.
- Improves comfort levels at home.
- Reduces the demand on home heating systems increasing their lifespan.
- Environmental conservation through reduced of emission of greenhouse gases.
- Protection of property: Potentially harmful pollutants like moisture are kept at bay.
- Privacy: some insulating materials are soundproof.
Types of home insulation
a) Attic Insulation. The attic is the main heat escape route, contributing over 50% heat loss. This is because warm air rises, and as it rises it will tend to exit through the attic. Consequently, if any substantial energy is to be conserved then the attic must be well insulated.
The standard attic insulation should comprise of 300mm of rockwool or other insulating material with an equivalent R-value.
b) Wall insulation. Walls contribute 20-30% heat loss of a home. After the artic, walls should be the second priority areas for insulation. It can be done in three ways. Cavity wall insulation, internal wall insulation or external wall insulation.
Cavity wall insulation entails the injection of insulating material in between the rows of brick or concrete blocks. Internal wall insulation as the name suggests is done by placing the insulation material on the inner side of the wall. Likewise, for external wall insulation, the insulation material is applied on the outer surface of a given wall.
c) Floor insulation. Floors not only contribute about 15% heat loss but also tend to be unbearably cold during winter. This necessitates installation of appropriate warming methods and insulation measures to preserve this heat.
The simplest insulation would be a good carpet. Carpeting however may not be sufficient hence we must incorporate other measures. For suspended floors, insulate the floorboard from the crawlspace which is just below the floorboard. If the house lacks a basement, the floorboards will have to be removed first, the insulating materials placed between the joists before replacing the floorboards. For concrete floors, a new layer of insulating material is laid on the top.
This heat escape route tends to be forgotten. In many houses, there exists a gap between the floor and the skirt board. Fill it with a sealant to prevent heat loss.
d) Crawlspace and basement insulation. More often than not, these hidden spaces are forgotten. It’s understandable as they are rarely visited. Yet they need ventilation. If not for heat conserving purposes, to keep away outdoor elements like pests and moisture or microorganisms. Fiberglass or spray foam insulators can do that well.
That said, there are few things you need to keep in mind before embarking on a house insulation project. First, the climatic condition of the specific area your house is in. You need to know this so that you can go for the right insulating materials best suited for such conditions.
Second, seek to know if there are any regulatory requirements. Some states regulate how building (which includes installation of insulation materials) is to be done. You don’t want to be on the wrong side of the law.
Finally, timing matters. Some of these roof insulation activities are very disruptive. You need to plan so that you do it at the right time. The best times to do it is when building a home or when you are planning for a major home upgrading.
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