Guide To Home Insulation

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It is often said that for mere survival, a human needs four things:

  1. Food
  2. Water
  3. Shelter
  4. Oxygen

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Shelter plays such a crucial role in survival. Our house is what protects us against natural calamities, wild animals and unpleasant situations. When you’re having a bad day, you’d just want to go back to your house; because that’s a comforting place. The importance of a home isn’t measured by the fancy glass doors or your awning windows or by how ornamented your front doors are. Rather it depends on the level of safety the house provides. Accidents can occur anywhere. Thus, it’s important to follow certain steps and tips to build a strong and healthy house that can protect you at all times and conditions. Here is where home insulation comes into play. This article is about the same.

What is home insulation?

Houses need protection to stand strong and still during unpleasant circumstances. home insulation constitutes of anything that’s used in a building for insulation purposes. There are various types of insulation, which are all equally important:

  • Thermal insulation:

It is the process of insulating the house against transmission or loss heat  absorption. In short, maintaining the temperature inside the house. This also ensures that it doesn’t fluctuate as per the climatic changes outside. For this purpose, the insulating material is chosen which has relatively low heat conductivity. This is used to shield the interior of the house against the loss or gain of heat by conduction, convection or radiation. Aluminium is a plausible insulator of heat. Therefore, in colder regions of the world aluminium doors and windows are used as it slows down the flow of heat from the inner to outer surroundings.

  • Electrical insulation:

If you have a house, it is certain that it’s powered by electricity. Almost every appliance runs using electrical power. Electrical current can be fatally dangerous. Thus, proper electrical insulation is very important. Using high-quality insulating materials to cover all the wires and plug points ensures electrical safety at home.

  • Acoustic insulation:

The materials used to build your house must have at least some soundproofing nature. Acoustic insulation is the overall ability of the building to reduce the sound transmission through it. Walls can be soundproofed using certain insulating materials. In the same way, aluminium windows and doors or glass doors provide better insulation than ordinary wooden doors.

  • Fire insulation:

Fires can start with the tiniest of sparks. Fire requires a combustible fuel and oxygen to burn. A house with fire insulation minimizes the chances of a fire accident by using non-combustible materials. For instance, wooden doors or window frames have a higher chance of burning due to the combustible nature of wood. Instead, having aluminium sliding doors and aluminium windows mitigate the possibility of a fire accident. aluminium is non-combustible. It has great fire resistance properties due to its melting point being beyond 600 degree Celsius.

  • Impact insulation:

Nature is dynamic. You can never know when there’d be intense winds blowing or an earthquake. In such situations, having a strong foundation and using building materials with a good tensile strength is very important. Protecting the house against vibrations caused by natural phenomenon or industrial applications is called impact insulation.

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Signs that your house is poorly insulated

  1. Fluctuating temperatures when the climatic conditions outside change.
  2. High energy bills due to all the heating/cooling appliances you use to control the temperature indoors
  3. Cold walls, floors, and ceilings
  4. Water leaks in the attic
  5. Too hot or too cold rooms

If you come across these signs, it means that it’s high time you got your insulation checked.

  • About 25% of the house heat seeps out to the atmosphere through the roof and attic. Hence, roof insulation is crucial.
  • The walls can lose about 35% of heat.
  • Windows are responsible for 35% heat escape
  • Any tiny gap will aid heat loss

It’s a proven fact that good insulation has three folds greater impact on the house’s average energy consumption and comfort.

Follow these few tips when you install insulation in your house

 

  • Factors like climate, the region you live in, the home design must be taken into consideration
  • Depending on the extent of insulation required, select a budget for smart insulation, use materials with a higher R-value. For example, cathedral ceilings and foam spray
  • Make sure you have an ample amount of ventilation for fresh air flow
  • Instead of installing solid wooden windows and doors; having glass doors allows natural sunlight into the house, which is also a good source of Vitamin D.
  • Consult an insulation expert to choose appropriate materials.

 

The following table contains the types of insulation materials that can be used:

MATERIAL

WHERE APPLICABLE

INSTALLATION METHODS

ADVANTAGES
Fiberglass

Mineral (rock or slag) wool

Plastic fibers

Natural fibers

Unfinished walls, including foundation walls

Floors and ceilings

Fitted between studs, joists, and beams. Do-it-yourself.

Perfect for joist spacing and standard stud

Is free from any obstructions.

Comparatively inexpensive.

Foam board:  Placed on the outside of a wall (usually a new construction) or within the wall (existing homes):

Some manufacturers include air or foam beads  (Increases R-values) into the mix of concrete

Unfinished walls, which also include foundation walls

Major renovations or New constructions

Walls (insulating concrete blocks)

Specialized skills are required

Insulating concrete blocks are stacked without a mortar sometimes (dry-stacked), and then it is surface bonded.

Insulating cores causes an increase in wall R-value.

Outside insulation of a concrete block wall will place a mass inside a conditioned space, which will moderate the indoor temperatures.

Autoclaved cellular concrete masonry and Autoclaved aerated concrete units have an insulating value that ten times better conventional concrete.

Polystyrene

Polyisocyanurate

Polyurethane

Unfinished walls which also foundation walls

Ceilings and  Floors

Unvented  roofs that are low-sloped

Interior applications: should be plastered with building-code approved material or 1/2-inch of gypsum board for safety against fires.

Exterior applications: should be encrusted with weatherproof facing.

A high value of insulation for comparatively little thickness.

Blocks thermal short circuits when it is installed constantly over the joists or frames.

Foam blocks or foam boards Unfinished walls, which includes foundation walls for a new development It is installed as a part of the structure of the building. Insulation is built within the home’s walls, which creates a high thermal resistance.
Mineral (slag or rock) wool  

Cellulose

Fiberglass

New open wall cavities  or already existing enclosed walls

Incomplete attic floors

Other hard-to-reach places

With the use of special equipment, it is blown into place or poured in sometimes. Great for adding insulation to finished existing areas, around obstructions, and irregularly shaped areas.
Paper,  Foil-faced kraft, polyethylene bubbles,   cardboard, or plastic film Ceilings, floors, and Unfinished walls Films, foils, or papers fitted between joists, wood-frame studs, beams, and rafters. Do-it-yourself.

Apt for framing at standard spacing.

If framing is irregular or obstructions are present, Bubble-form apt.

Most effective at (effectiveness usually depends on spacing) preventing downward heat flow.

Mineral (rock or slag) wool Fiberglass Ducts that are in unconditioned spaces

Places that require insulation which can manage high temperatures

At their shops or the job sites, HVAC contractors fabricate the insulation into ducts. Can tolerate high temperatures.
Liquid foam insulation core or Foamboard

Straw core insulation

ceilings,  Unfinished walls, roofs, and  floor for new construction To form walls and roof of a house, construction workers fit SIPs together SIP-built houses give uniform and superior insulation when compared to more regular construction methods; they also take a short time to build.

 

How to insulate your house?

In today’s world, energy is the deficit. This calls for energy conservation in any way possible. In your house, instead of turning the thermostat on, insulate your home for long-term benefits. This cuts down on your electricity bill, along with insulating your house thermally.

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Follow the guide:

  • Insulating the doors

Doors create a pathway between the house and outer surroundings. Thus, insulating the doors can help in managing the temperature inside the house. Using porous substances like wood or straws for manufacturing of doors doesn’t help much with controlling heat exchange. Whereas, using synthetic substances like glass or metal slows down the flow of heat. Glass doors are great for heat insulation and for letting the sunlight in. aluminium doors are insulators of heat and have good tensile strength. It makes for an apt door.

  • Well insulated windows

Along with doors, windows are another kind of openings in the house that aid heat escape. Cracks, crevices, and pores are frequent escape points for warm air to escape. Cheap plastic or wooden window frames can wear out over time. Metallic frames are cost efficient and good for long-term usage. aluminium windows and window frames last long and provide great insulation. Apart from this, investing in cellular blinds or insulating draperies can be a great idea as well.

  • Double glazing

If you have glass doors or windows; double glazing is a fantastic option. Windows which have two layers of glass with a space between the layers, called double glazing. They reduce the loss of heat. It’s worth the investment and can save you dollars on your electricity bill.

  • Insulation of attic or loft

This has been studied and stated as one of the most efficient energy saving options. It’s also very cheap and extremely simple to install; you can DIY it. You just need to purchase some fiberglass wool and cover all the gaps and holes in your house with it. Glass wool is a synthetic material made of a mixture of sand and recycled glass at 2642 degree Fahrenheit. The end product is converted into fibers, that are available in the market. The best part is that glass wool is recyclable. Glass wool is one of the best insulating materials, as it’s appropriate for thermal, sound and fire insulation.

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How is insulation rated?

Alike all physical properties, thermal insulation can be rated too. It is based on the measurement of the resistance of the material to the flow of heat. It is commonly referred to as R-value. The resistance to heat flow is directly proportional to the R-value. Hence, materials with a higher R-value are more insulating. There are a set of building codes which list the appropriate R-value required for different parts of your house. Following the manufacturer’s instructions properly will result in you having a perfectly insulated house.

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Insulation of doors and windows

The two major openings in the house are doors and windows. Following are some ways to insulate them. There are some DIY projects you can use on your doors and windows to thermally insulate them. Their projects are cost-efficient and don’t need a special set of separate skills. Cold air enters through the windows from tiny holes that are uninsulated. Draft-proofing the windows using the following ways can help:

  1. Weatherstripping: A cost-efficient method is to purchase weatherstrips to fix drafty windows and doors. Weatherstrips are pieces of rubber, synthetic fiber or other materials that can be used to seal loose ends and corners of the doors and windows.
  2. Foam tape: Foam tapes are extremely handy and useful. They are super adhesive tapes that are of insulating foam material. Slightly warped doors and windows can be quickly fixed by cutting a piece of this tape and securing the corners to block air. How easy can it get?
  3. Using door snakes: If you have creaky windows or a wide gap between the door and floor; door snakes come very handy. They are heavy tubes of fiber that can be placed at an opening to block the cold winds. They are inexpensive and can be DIYed. If you don’t want to purchase one, roll an old towel or a fabric in the shape of a tube, and you’re good to go.

Houses are not just pieces of mere architecture. We live in it for a long period. Thus, for our safety and comfort, we must maintain the house in good condition. A constant renovation is necessary. Be it replacing worn out wooden doors with aluminium doors or getting upgraded glass doors for your French windows. Comfort, safety, and energy conservation are three very important things. All three can be achieved with a well-insulated house.  

 

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