No longer a luxury, insulation is now a legal requirement for any new home. The reasons are obvious; increased energy efficiency and inhabitant comfort. Insulation has many benefits and can be used to good effect in both hot and cold climates.
The type of insulation you buy will have an effect on how well it works so here we’ll go through the most popular types, helping you decide which is right for you.
Types of Building Insulation
Usually synthetic in nature, insulation is typically made from several common materials. Each will have its own pros and cons but they all serve to do the same thing.
- Fibreglass – Fibreglass is now the most common type of building insulation. Heat transfer is minimised by the effective use of woven glass fibres, interlaced together to provide a thermally efficient material.
Fibreglass can be dangerous to produce due to the damaging effect it can have on lungs and eyes but as long as it remains intact, it is perfectly safe. It is also fire resistant so makes a great building material.
- Mineral Wool – This could either refer to glass wool, essentially fibreglass or rock wool, produced from basalt. Whilst it isn’t combustible, mineral wool doesn’t benefit from the same fire-resistant properties as fibreglass or other types of insulation, making it less useful for extreme heat environments where risk of fire is high.
- Polyurethane Foam – Another great form of insulation, polyurethane is typically sprayed onto surfaces. Great for all those instances where bulky insulation panels wouldn’t fit. Polyurethane is environmentally friendly and features great levels of fire resistance.
- Polystyrene – Polystyrene is a waterproof thermoplastic foam which has excellent sound and thermal properties. Its surface is the smoothest of any insulation you will come across but unfortunately it does need to be treated to make it suitably fire resistant.
You will often find that fibreglass insulation is the cheapest you can buy. Its low profile makes it great for wall cavities as it can be dropped straight in, still leaving enough space to ensure thermal bridging doesn’t occur.
The Benefits of Insulation
The largest benefit you will receive is the reduced cost to heat your home. Any space that is airtight and is not susceptible to loosing heat through its external walls will require less energy to heat. Your thermostats will work far more effectively and will kick in much sooner as temperatures are easier to reach and maintain.
Another effect people don’t consider is the ability for insulation to reduce condensation. Condensation is usually the cause of significant damp problems which can damage your building’s fabric. Anything you can do to reduce it will save you money in the long run.
Luckily, insulation is readily available from several sources. Thermal insulation can be bought from manufacturers and trade merchants who specialise in construction materials. There are many different insulation products on the market so do your research – some types will work better in certain applications.
You will often find that insulation pays for itself with a large reduction in energy bills, a reduction you will quickly notice.