Insulation in the Modern Home
Insulation is put in place to minimise heat loss and keep your home warm and cosy during winter, and cool during summer. Unless built in the last 10 years, it’s probable that your home has insulation made from fibreglass batts or blankets. You may even have come across these fluffy-looking sheets in your loft or attic, but beware as they do tend to cause itching upon skin contact.
Modern innovation means that there are now many more insulation options to choose from. Some offer an increase in energy efficiency, or have a smaller carbon footprint to produce. Most can be fitted into existing houses without too much trouble, and if you are planning renovation works then it’s the ideal time to consider upgrading your insulation.
Popular with house builders hoping to build a more ‘natural’ property, straw bales are surprisingly effective as an insulating technique and possesses a high thermal rating. The widespread availability of the raw material adds to its attractiveness, as does its renewable and biodegradable. What’s more, contrary to what you may think, straw is actually naturally fire-retardant!
Structural Insulated Panels (SIPs)
SIPs are a sandwich structure composed of rigid panels with a core comprised of an insulating material such as polyurethane foam. The core and panel materials can vary according to manufacturer, and your architect will be able to explain the various options in more detail should you require more information. When bonded directly to the exterior and interior wall, foam “skins” and doesn't allow air infiltration around it. This makes SIPs ideal for insulating, as this skin effectively locks in your home’s heat and prevents drafts, reduces noise levels and delivers far lower energy bills. SIPs should be put in place during the initial build of a property, rather than as a later addition.
As part of the movement towards greener construction, natural fibres are emerging as a popular choice for house builders. The insulation can be formed from a variety of recycled or renewable materials, including cork, cotton, hemp, and even clothes! In their base form, these natural fibres are of course susceptible to insects, fire and weather issues, but for construction purposes they are treated with the appropriate retardants before installation. Natural fibres can perform just as well as industrial insulating materials, but the thickness of the material may need to be increased to ensure the same thermal coverage.
Another option which can assist in reducing your building’s carbon footprint, loose-fill insulating is a relatively inexpensive option which can provide just as much thermal protection. This technique has been around for some years, but it is a great way for insulating hard-to-reach areas, or ones which may be encumbered by pipes, wiring or beams. Various types of loose-fill insulation are available – your architect will be able to advise you on which one best suits your home. Recycled material can also be used for this method, and it involves the use of specialist equipment to ‘blow’ or spray the material into all the nooks and crannies, creating a thick layer of insulating. This makes it a preferable method for existing structures, for example wall cavities and loft spaces.
If you are thinking of upgrading your existing insulation in order to your energy bills and limit your carbon footprint, Block Architects’ experts are fully qualified and able to answer and questions you may have. To enquire about insulation renovations or the insulation for your self-build home, contact us today.
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