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Importance of Insulation in High-performing Homes

Jun 16, 2022 | News

Following on from my previous article, Tips To Making An Energy Efficient Home. This short little series will take a deep dive into each segment, Insulation, Airtightness & Orientation. While focusing on what to do and what to watch out for to ensure your home is as energy efficient as possible.

Let’s start off with the INSULATION.

I know you’ve probably all heard me harp on about insulation before… but, it is so damn important for energy-efficient and comfortable homes.

The days of insulation installers being a careless trade MUST be banished, the comfort and performance of your home for decades to come depends on it.

I know you’ve all heard my analogy before (I used it in the previous article), but I will use it again below to ensure we’re all crystal clear how insulation works;

5% of gaps in your home’s insulation can reduce its efficiency by up to 50%. I liken this to jumping in a nice warm bed but your little toes hanging out the end of the duvet. You’ll start to feel cold real quick in that case. A home’s insulation works in the same way. 

Therefore, it’s critically important we get our insulation right.

Below are some tips for insulation energy-efficient homes.

Insulate EVERYWHERE possible.

Insulate in every location there is a gap between any wall, roof or floor member. Places like around window reveals, plumbing pipes and timber lintels are often places that insulation can be missed. Be sure that all insulation is a snug fit. Remember insulation is your home’s blanket, and should be a continuous layer.

Don’t squash or compress your insulation.

Common with bulk insulation (opposed to closed cell) that can be easily compressed when pushed into tight spaces. Insulation works by having millions of tiny air pockets within it. Once these pockets are closed the value of the insulation greatly decreases. The more air pockets the  more effective the insulation will be at preventing hot or cold from traveling from outside to inside.

Ensure your insulation is protected from weather.

Wet insulation is terrible, not only is it low value insulation, it can cause much worse problems than just a decrease in R-value. If insulation gets wet and stays wet for some time it can grow mold and be harmful to the occupants of the home. It’s important to have an appropriate WRB (Weather Resistant Barrier) on the exterior of the insulation to prevent any contact with weather.

Ensure your downlights are IC Rated.

The great majority of a home’s heat loss is through the ceiling. Therefore, there’s a preference for less penetrations through a home’s envelope i.e. plasterboard. As a first preference we recommend ceiling mounted lights as the best solution to ensure a continuous layer of ceiling insulation. Although, if downlights are your thing, ensure you select IC rated downlights which are suitable for close contact with your ceiling insulation.

Avoid thermal bridges

Thermal bridges are a major item to avoid. Most often a steel element (can also be timber) running from the inside of a home to outside, and slicing through that beautiful insulation layer you’ve worked so hard on. With a strong heat and cold conductor like steel, we know what’s going to happen, don’t we!? Just like your little toes hanging out the bed, the thermal bridge is going to pick up on the outside temperature and transfer it inside your home like a highway. This can also cause condensation and mold issues.

Be sure to check your insulation installation extra thoroughly, because once that plastered goes on your walls, it’s too late to do anything about it.

Keep an eye out for our next article covering Airtightness.

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