Building Insulation

Things to Consider When Insulating a Building

Is your house properly insulated?  Insulating a house was not a major concern 30 years ago. Before the energy crisis in the 70's most homeowners just turned up the heater when it was cold and turned up the air-conditioner when it was hot. However, the rising need to conserve energy and the rising cost of energy and power has brought about the idea of making homes and other structures air-tight.  Today homeowner, architects and builders now implement proper insulation.

The heating and cooling of homes and other buildings in the UK account for about 50% to 60% of the energy used. Poor insulation and air leakages in homes cause waste of energy.

Hot air naturally flows to cool spaces.  During winters the heat generated in the house moves outside the house and to cool spaces such as the attic, garage, and basement or in any space where there is a marked difference in temperature. In the summer, the reverse happens. The hot air from the outside moves in to the cooler confines of the house. To achieve comfort, the heating system replaces the lost heat in winter and the heat gained in the summer is compensated by the air conditioner. There is a need to insulate walls, ceilings and floors as insulating them would decrease the cooling and heating needed by a house and other structures.

Why insulate a house?

Aside from the obvious reasons that doing so would provide you with comfort here are some more ideas as to why you should insulate your house.

Does your house need an upgrade on insulation?  Homes built in the last few years may or may not have optimal insulation. However it is a fact that nearly all older homes are lacking insulation. There are ways to know if your home is inadequately insulated.  In the winter, are the walls and floors cold to touch? Are there moulds thriving in some walls? Is the energy cost high?  Is the level of heat in the building uneven? 

During summer is the heat inside your house unbearable in spite of the air conditioner set on high? Are there moulds growing in the basement?  If so, the house could be under insulated house. It is best to call a qualified professional to "energy audit" the structure.  After the consult, you can then proceed to insulate your own home.

Where do you need insulation?  It is ideal to insulate all walls, attic, flooring and basement that envelope a house. Insulating an attic could cut energy cost by as much as 30%. Insulating crawl spaces should cut energy cost by about 15 % too.   It is easy enough to insulate the walls of ongoing new constructions but installing insulations in already built homes might prove hard and rather expensive. It is best to get suggestions and quotes from professionals if this is the case.

Choose the type of building insulation for your home.

The main purpose of insulation is to limit the movement of air. There are several types of insulation that you can choose. They are fibreglass (batts and blankets), cellulose, polyicynene   (loose fill) and expanded polystyrene (low density foam).  The R value of the material is important.  The R value is the measure of an insulation material to resist air flow. The higher the R value, the better it is.

Getting the job done should be easy. If you choose to DIY the insulation, make sure that you seal up all cracks and crevices that allow air to flow in. Make sure that doors and windows are air tight too. If you choose to hire a contractor for the job, be sure to ask quotes and estimate from 2 to 3 contractors for comparison. Check that the specifications will be met especially the R value.

Discuss with your contractor about ventilation and moisture control. Structures in the temperate zones have to deal with moisture due to cold winter months. Vapour barriers are sometimes needed to prevent it from collecting in insulated walls, floors, ceilings and roof.  A vapour retarder such as the foil at the other face of a batt or blanket must be installed too.

 Both tropical and temperate zones buildings have to deal with proper ventilation to maximize the quality of air without compromising energy.

The right insulation for your home will save you money. You can help save energy without sacrificing your comfort.  Be sure that you check the cost, heat gain and heat loss with the insulation you choose. If your home is poorly insulated, upgrade if you can. If you are building a new house, insulate well now.



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