Families spend hundreds of dollars in sophisticated air-conditioning and heating systems. These usually spend a lot of energy, resulting in emissions of CO2, maintenance costs and limited lifespan. And yet, there may be an issue preventing heat to stay indoors. If every time you turn on the heat to its maximum capacity, you still feel cold, it is that your house is poorly insulated. Most households are losing money every month and do not know the reason. Heat flows from warmer to colder areas until there is no longer a temperature difference. To prevent cold from entering your house and maintain the desired temperature, the solution is to isolate.
Insulation provides resistance to heat flow. Most common insulation materials work by slowing conductive heat flow and — to a lesser extent — convective heat flow between two areas which naturally tend to equalize in temperature. Proper thermal insulation seals your home against the unwanted exchange of air with the outdoors will provide you with optimum savings and will improve comfort. The more heat flow resistance your insulation provides, the lower your heating and cooling costs. The key to energy efficiency when heating or cooling a house is through the use of proper insulation on the ‘envelope’ of the home.
To check if your house is properly isolated here are few simple tricks
• How old is your house? If it was built before 1979, certainly it is not properly insulated.
• Tapping on the wall, you will know whether or not it is well insulated. If it sounds hollow, it means that it is not adequately insulated.
• Air flows in specific enclaves? If it enters the base of the plugs or the strip of the windows, there is no insulation.
Properly insulating your home not only reduces costs, but also improves comfort. For optimal energy efficiency, your home should be properly insulated from the roof down to its foundation. Thermal insulation materials are used in construction and they are characterized by high thermal resistance, such as mineral wool (rock wool or glass), expanded polystyrene, extruded polystyrene, and polyurethane foam.
Here are some tips on how to make sure your house is properly isolated:
Verify the right type of insulation:
There are several types of insulation – each with properties and applications suitable for different areas of a home. Before choosing insulating confirm if the area is wet or dry, whether it will have to bear weight and if you need a barrier against water vapor (e.g. in the bathroom).
Installing a three-centimeter layer of cork, fiberglass or polyurethane has the same insulating capacity as a stone wall one meter thick. However, hollow bricks remain the best insulator, for many professionals. Still it’s very important that you consider the type of construction, the location and the orientation of the house and the area to be insulated (roofs, floors, walls, front wall). Insulation materials run the gamut from bulky fiber materials such as fiberglass, rock and slag wool, cellulose, and natural fibers to rigid foam boards to sleek foils. Bulky materials resist conductive and — to a lesser degree — convective heat flow in a building cavity. Rigid foam boards trap air or another gas to resist conductive heat flow. Highly reflective foils in radiant barriers and reflective insulation systems reflect radiant heat away from living spaces, making them particularly useful in cooling climates. Other less common materials such as cementitious and phenolic foams and vermiculite and perlite are also available. These are some general recommended materials for each area:
Floors: the higher density mineral wool, extruded polystyrene or reflective is recommended.
Roofs and ceilings: Mineral wool of lower density, extruded polystyrene or reflective are suggested.
Walls and partitions: Choose reflective material, mineral wool of lower density extruded polystyrene or expanded polystyrene.
Frontage: higher density mineral wool or extruded polystyrene are recommended.
Thermal insulation has two main features:
- The ‘R’ value:
An R-value specifies your insulation’s resistance to heat flow – the higher the R-value, the greater the insulating effectiveness. Your recommended ‘R value’ will depend on your climate and type of heating and cooling system.
- Lambda value λ
The thermal conductivity given by the lambda value λ. The lower the lambda value, the better the insulation. The best choice is a material which achieves excellent lambda values across the entire temperature range. This high level of thermal performance will significantly reduce energy losses as the operational temperatures increase.
Locate problem areas
Many older homes have little or no insulation in areas such as an attic space. These open spaces allow warm air to escape and your furnace will have to work overtime to fill this void.
Entries are points to consider against loss of heat or cold. Sealing windows and doors is the easiest way to begin insulating your home. By using weather stripping, you can stop the flow of air around these trouble areas. Double glazing or double window systems reduce almost to the half the heat loss compared to single glazing. The best frames are the so-called thermal break, containing insulating material between the inner and outer frame.
Around 20 percent of heat moving through the vent and duct system of a typical home is lost due to leaks and poorly sealed connections. Sealing those leaks will prevent heated or cooled air from being wasted.
Ceiling represent the area for which most of heat is lost . It can be isolated with mineral fiber sheets, as rockwool or fiberglass. They can also be covered with special paints, which deflect the heat to another point.
To achieve thermal isolation in small gaps use domestic elastomeric foams. Skylights need good thermal performance characteristics to avoid high heat losses on cold winter nights and overheating in summer. If your skylight is installed through a roof space, make sure the light shaft between the roof and the ceiling is well insulated
After this review, you may realice you need to improve your home’s thermal seal. Isolating your house is essential to make it comfortable and warm. A poorly insulated house needs more heat production to maintain its temperature, increasing energy consumption. Small improvements in insulation can lead energy and economic savings of up to 30%.