Thermal insulation: Keeping Your Home Warm

Heating the home is a relatively costly matter, so it is important not to waste heat through poorly insulated structures. Up to 75 per cent of the heat produced can be lost through roofs, walls, floors and window areas in poorly insulated homes. This article tells you how to keep down costs by using correct insulation materials.

Thermal insulation

To achieve comfort in the home and keep heating costs down, warmth must be retained for as long as possible. Good insulation helps to keep the home warm in winter and cool in summer. In many homes, huge heat losses occur as a result of poor thermal insulation.

In homes that are empty all day, then heated when the family returns home, internal linings with good thermal-insulation qualities reduce the time taken for the temperature to reach an acceptable level. The fabric of the home will also more readily retain heat.

Of all money spent on heating, up to 75 per cent is lost through the fabric of the house, largely through chinks, gaps and poor insulation. Heat is lost in two ways-by conduction via the exterior structure and ventilation through air changes.

The major points where heat is lost are through the walls (25 per cent), roofs, windows, flues and doors (all 20 per cent) and through floors (10 per cent).

The thermal efficiency of a material is expressed by what is known as its ‘U’ value, or thermal transmittance co-efficient. This is the amount of heat lost from one side of a structure to the other, per m2 per hour and per degree difference on each side.

This is usually expressed by the formula: ‘U’w/m2°C. This means transmittance of heat in watts at °Celcius per m2. A high ‘U’ value means a high heat loss and poor insulation. The lower the value, the better the insulant qualities of the structure.

For example, a roof with simply tiles on battens has a ‘U’ value as high as 3.17, while tiles laid on felt and with ceiling insulation consisting of 25mm quilt or 50mm of loose fill, has a low ‘U’ value of 0.85.

Walls

Wall structure may be one of three types: solid walls of brick or stone; cavity walls with one brick wall and an inner leaf, either of brick, building or aggregate block; or an outer brick leaf with an inner ‘dry’ plasterboard or similar lining. This latter type of construction is often found in frame houses.

The method of insulating a solid wall is by fixing the insulant materials to the inner skin. Heat loss will be cut and cold surfaces on which condensation forms will be warmer.

10. November 2011 by admin
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