Insulation is an essential component in homes that seek to achieve energy efficiency. If placed perfectly in spaces where air escapes, especially between stud cavities and in the attic, insulation serves by reducing and slowing heat transfer.
Homeowners can save up to 15% on cooling and heating costs by adding proper insulation and sealing air leaks. However, for insulation to work perfectly, you need to know the best type of insulation for your home and the R-values for spaces you want to insulate.
If you are looking for a type of insulation for your home, this article is ideal for you. It explores the top three insulation types in detail to give you a clear understanding and help you select the perfect one for your home. Here are the top three types of insulation.
1. Blanket batts and rolls
Blanket batts and rolls are made from fibreglass, although there are versions of plastic fibres, cotton and mineral wool. This insulation type is affordable and a friendly DIY project since the materials used to fit perfectly into the width between floor joists, attic rafters and wall studs.
If you choose the roll variety, you will have to cut the insulation into the needed length since forcing your insulation to fit perfectly by compression will reduce its effectiveness.
Regular fibreglass batts and blankets have R-values ranging from R-2.9 to R-3.8 per inch in thickness. The high-performance that is medium and high-density ones have R-values that range from R-3.7 to R-4.3 per inch.
Continuous rolls can easily be trimmed and hand-cut so they can fit properly. Producers attach a facing like foil-kraft paper or vinyl to act as an air or vapour barrier. Batts with unique flame-resistant facing are also available in different widths for basements or places left exposed after the insulation. Facing will also help enhance fastening when installing your batts. Furthermore, some are UV resistant and reduce sun bleaching effects.
2. Concrete Block Insulation
Concrete blocks are mainly used in the construction of walls and home foundations. There are a number of ways to insulate concrete blocks depending on how they are being used. In case the cores don’t have to be filled with concrete or steel for construction purposes, they may be filled with insulation raising the wall R-value.
However, computer simulations show that any core filling provides little fuel-saving since heat is still conducted via solid parts like mortar joints and block webs.
To increase the effectiveness of insulation, install it over the blocks’ surface either on the interior or exterior of your foundation walls. However, installing on the exterior provides an extra advantage of thermal mass within the conditioned area, thus moderating indoor temperatures. Some producers incorporate rigid foam while others add polystyrene beads in the concrete blocks.
There are mainly two types of solid precast concrete units of masonry: autoclaved cellular concrete and autoclaved aerated concrete. The material contains a huge percentage of air by volume and has been in use since the late 1940s.
The autoclaved concrete is ten times more valuable than conventional concrete. Its blocks are big, light and can be sawed easily and shaped with common tools. The material is not water-resistant, so it easily absorbs moisture, thus requires extra protection.
Instead of high-silica, precast autoclaved aerated concrete uses fly ash, making it different from autoclaved cellular concrete. The fly ash is acquired from burning coal as a waste product in electric power stations.
There are also hollow-core units made from a mixture of wood and concrete chips available. These units are installed by stacking them without using a mortar or filling the cores with structural steel or concrete. However, this type of wood unit is subject to insect and moisture effects. While concrete wall blocks are built or insulted with concrete blocks during renovation or construction, existing block walls may be insulated from the inside.
4. Reflective and radiant barriers insulation
This type of insulation works differently from most insulation types; therefore, its effectiveness is not determined by the R-values. While the standard insulation moderates heat flow in the house by reducing heat, reflective insulation reflects the heat away, thus preventing heat gain and allowing radiant heat transfer to other cooler areas inside the house.
UPVC, which is made from natural materials such as petroleum, natural gas, and salt is not combined with plastic, making it a more environmentally-safe insulating material that can be used on ceilings or roofs. It’s ideal for conservatories as it’s bright and also prevents condensation.
The insulation is built with a reflective barrier such as aluminium foil, placed on the surface of a substrate material like polyethylene bubbles. House owners living in warmer areas place radiant or reflective barriers in attics between beams, joists and rafters since most heat gets in the house through the attics. You don’t require a professional to install them for you as you can do it yourself.
Radiant heat moves in a straight path, heating any solid thing that absorbs its energy. Sun rays heat the roof; it is typically radiant energy from the sun that makes the roof so hot. A huge amount of this heat moves by conduction from the roofing to the roof’s attic part.
Hot roof materials radiate the absorbed heat to the cooler attic, including the attic floor and air ducts. A radiant barrier minimises the transfer of radiant heat from under the roof to other attic surfaces. For it to be effective, it should face an air vacuum.
Radiant barriers work better in hot climates, especially if the cooling air canals are situated in the attic. Research shows that the barriers lower cooling costs by up to 10% if used in a sunny or warm climate. The reduction in heat gain may allow a small air conditioning system. However, installing more thermal insulation in a cool climate is cheaper.