Hi all, Green Energy expert, Eduardo from GreenMatch is this week’s guest author. He’ll be talking about how you can make your home more sustainable by having the correct insulation.
As sustainability becomes an increasingly concerning public matter, more homeowners start considering options to make their houses environmentally friendly. Some of the most popular among these options, those ones that first come to mind, may sound very familiar to you: photovoltaic (or PV) panels, solar water heaters, air source heat pumps, etc. But there’s a much more obvious option that doesn’t receive as much attention: insulation. What many people are missing is a more basic measure for reducing their carbon footprint than just spending a lot of energy, even when it’s renewable, to maintain certain inner thermal conditions.
The first step when it comes to ensuring the sustainability and “greenness” of a house is reducing the external weather’s influence on its temperature and humidity by insulating it. Only once a proper insulation is present, it does make sense to choose and install some renewable energy technology. Why? Energy consumption will be significantly reduced from that prior to the insulation.
In order to appreciate the benefits of insulation, it’s important to understand its working principle. We are all familiar with the notion of heat transfer, even if we haven’t heard or thought about it in a scientific way. It’s a very natural concept: heat always flows from warmer to cooler until both temperatures become equal.
If applied to your home, that means it will cede part of its heat to the cold outside during winter, and will receive heat from it during summer. That results in a perceptible lack of comfort as temperature and humidity won’t keep their optimal values throughout the year. It will make the heating and cooling system spend more energy keeping those inner thermal conditions within their desired limits.
Home insulation helps reduce that problem by adding heat transfer resistance to (at least) the external surfaces of the house. This reduces the heat exchange with the outside and maximizing the use of energy. The most immediate effect of insulation is the upgrade of thermal comfort. This is due to a more constant inner temperature and the reduction of mold and damp. Besides providing thermal insulation, the implementation of home insulation reduces noise pollution, allowing for high comfort (especially if combined with a sustainable Heating, Ventilating, and Air Conditioning system).
On the other hand, improving power efficiency is not only good news for the environment, but also for your pocket, since it lowers utility bills considerably. This cost reduction depends on many factors, ranging from weather patterns and climatic zones to insulation materials and applied technologies, to the size and dimensions of the house and its energy sources. Home insulation can save up to 30% of a home’s heating and cooling costs.
If you are considering insulating your house, you may be wondering:
Due to the complexity of the heat transfer process, there’s no ideal insulation implementation for every single house.
A qualified professional should analyze each and every case. So even if you intend to insulate your home yourself, it’s highly recommendable to ask a local insulation professional. For optimal efficiency, it’s vital to properly insulate every room meant to have air conditioning. For insulating the attic, loosefill or batt (blanket) insulation is common. If the room under the attic is meant to be a conditioned one (that is, insulated), the attic access has to be insulated and air sealed. When it comes to insulating exterior walls, a good option is Foam-In-Place insulation.
Ducts should be placed in conditioned spaces, and, if they aren’t, it’s necessary to insulate and seal them. The common procedure in floors and ceilings is to insulate them wherever they separate a conditioned room from an unconditioned one. They have to be partially insulated in joist areas. We don’t aim to give a detailed list of rooms and elements to be insulated in this post. As you can imagine, there are much more than those shown here (for further information, visit GreenMatch).
We think of global warming as too big of a problem to address individually. Homeowners shouldn’t feel discouraged from investing in sustainable solutions such as insulation. It’s fundamental to realize that we can solve global warming through a global commitment to lessen adverse human effects. Insulating your home is just the first step towards a greener, more sustainable and environmentally respectful, brighter future.