Our reasons for insulating vary from the insulation of buildings, to soundproofing, thermal insulation, electrical insulation, and last but not least, insulated glass. The discussion of its many purposes, its uses, and its abilities, can run lengthy. For our purposes, our focus will remain on its basics and of our main use, insulating the home.
The vast majority of our homes are insulated for thermal purposes but many are also insulated for those of acoustic, fire, and impact. Often we choose material that can perform several of these functions together making sure to reduce heat loss, heat gain, and to also decrease the use of heating and cooling systems. Each building is different and requires a different material to perform these tasks. Its amount is based on the building’s design, climate, energy costs, budget, and personal preference.
Those residing in a colder climate aim to reduce heat loss. This can be completed with the use of good weatherization, bulk insulation, and minimizing the amount of non-insulated glazing on your home.
Those within a hot climate aim to reduce the amount of heat that is produced by the sun as this is the greatest source of heat energy. Making sure to have light colored roofing, heat reflective paints, and various types of insulation, will help to reduce the sun’s impact on your home.
Each type is categorized by its composition (material), by its form (structural or non-structural), or by its functional mode (conductive, radiative, convective). Each type is chosen for its properties and its strengths and weaknesses; however, there are many points that need to be considered before making a choice:
· ease of replacement
· cost effectiveness
· environmental impacts and sustainability.
There are many types of insulation forms to choose from. Non-structural forms consist of batts (the most common type of insulation in the USA), blankets, loose-fill, spray foam, and panels. Structural forms consist of insulated concrete forms, structured panels, and straw bales. As mentioned, most often a combination of materials is selected in order to achieve the best results. Additionally, not all forms perform well in all climates.
A qualified energy auditor can help to assess the needs of your home and to determine if added materials are needed. This evaluation is performed during an energy audit at no extra cost and can help you save money on your home heating and cooling needs.