Insulation is an complicated but essential consideration in house building. Not only does it have to conform to many compulsory building codes, it has an important role to play in both ecological and whole-life costs of your home.
Good quality insulation keeps your home warmer in winter, it also helps keep it cooler in summer. We call this the “Thermos Flask” effect. Air is a poor conductor of heat, so that any pockets of air trapped in insulation minimise the amount of heat which can pass between the inside and outside of your house. This means that in winter, the heat stays inside a home and in the summer it stays outside! Different types of insulation materials have different properties, so are suitable for different areas of a building.
Ambient temperature in a dwelling is all about balance to keep it so. It can be affected by the type of construction, insulation choice, family habits and heating type etc. Warm air seeks a cooler location so it’s essential to keep the space balanced for maximum efficiency, lower carbon emissions and of course heating costs.
Modern Methods of Construction and Government demands mean that insulation products have hugely improved from the old fashioned methods and nowadays the technical properties and performances can be guaranteed.
The best advice for choosing insulation is get the best you can afford even if it means borrowing a bit of the budget from elsewhere:
So what are our commercial options?
There are many new-wave supposed eco-solutions such as shredded plastic bottles and newspaper etc but remember that we have to meet very high standards of efficiency under the building codes known as U values and they are expressed as W/m2K and we have to produce thermal calculations to prove that we have met the proscribed U values. As an example a wall U value requirement may be expressed as 0.27W/m2K and we have to achieve this by specifying a selecting of materials that make up the wall that combined will give us that U value. If we up-rate the combination or increase the insulation the U value will lower (unlike R values that will rise). Using “alternative” insulation materials can often cause complication with the calculations—so we stick to known commercial products.
Used to be the world’s most popular and widely used insulation material, glasswool is made from recycled glass bottles, so it is ultra-eco-friendly. It is easy to handle and install, it used to be the most cost-effective insulation available but it has increased considerably in price recently and is now almost the same price as other solutions.............. continued
FAST FACT........ It’s estimated that improving the energy efficiency of Europe’s buildings would reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 460 million tonnes a year (more than Europe’s total Kyoto commitment). It would also save the EU countries’ 270 billion in energy costs and reduce energy consumption by the equivalent of 3.3m barrels of oil a day. But we can go much further if we take a holistic view to the sustainable development of new housing.
Rock mineral wool has a more solid structure, so is ideal for situations where it may be under compression, (e.g. on a flat roof).
Mineral wool insulation products are available in rolls of different widths and thicknesses for quick and simple DIY installation – for example, between the rafters in a roof or joists in a ceiling or floor. It can also be produced as lightweight ‘slabs’ for installing into the cavity walls when building new houses. ‘Loose’ mineral wool can also be used to fill cavity walls and is blown in through a hole drilled in the wall after it is built.
Installing mineral wool insulation is also an effective fire safety measure, as it does not burn easily, so can prevent fire spreading. In fact, rock mineral wool can resist temperatures above 1,000°C.
Rigid polyurethane (PUR) and polyisocyanurate (PIR) insulation products are highly effective, lightweight and many have the ability to bond to most materials. Their excellent thermal conductivity and high strength to weight ratio, combined with great manufacturing versatility provides a range of products. As a result, PIR/PUR insulation products are a popular choice for most construction insulation applications. Rigid foam insulation has high compressive strength and is used where it needs to support weight (e.g. under a floor, or in lofts as a storage solution). As well as strength and durability, rigid foam insulation can also provide additional properties such as fire resistance and acoustic insulation to minimise the level of sound travelling through walls and floors.
Sheep’s wool insulation is a fairly new insulation product, however before it is used as an insulation material, it must undergo an intensive cleaning process in order to remove the dirt and oils from the wool. The chemicals and energy used during this process must be taken into account when measuring its environmental impact. Like most ecological products It is not a cheap solution!
This is the new kid on the block and is without doubt the best choice in terms of performance and cost. Hybrid is a reflective insulation product based on a honeycomb structure made of shaped polyethylene foams glued to aluminium coated polyethylene foils. High thermal performance is provided by a special structure composed of a large number of low emissivity cavities, protected from dust and excessive air movement. Moreover, the low emissivity external films provide additional thermal resistance, when associated with air cavities. Hybrid/Hybris is available in 1200mm wide rolls and in a range of thicknesses from 45mm to 135mm in 15mm increments Each hybrid product combines insulation, air tightness, moisture resistance and reflective properties.
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