Different Types of Insulation For Your Home: Advantages And Limitations
HVAC systems tap heavily into your resources; be it space, money, or energy. All home owners, in the Bay Area and beyond, need to understand how HVAC systems function, in order to get the most out of them and avoid wastage of resources.
One big problem that HVAC systems face is improper heating or cooling and lack of good insulation is often the biggest reason for this.
Need for insulation
Homes need to be well insulated in order to circulate air around the house at the desired temperature. Conditioned air gets lost to the surroundings because the interiors of the house and the ductwork of the HVAC system do not provide enough insulation. As a result, the system needs to run over-time to make up for the loss in hot or cold air.
Important factors that insulation depends on
a) How much?
Before choosing any kind of insulation for your home, it is necessary to determine how much insulation you require.
Insulation is measured in R value, which denotes the maximum thermal performance needed to keep your house cool in summer and warm in winters. The higher the R value, the better is the thermal performance of the insulation, helping you avoid wastage of conditioned air and no one wants to waste anything. Wasting energy is not ideal for the environment either.
R values recommended for homes change depending on area of residence and local climate.
The type of insulation you opt for will depend on where it needs to be fitted. Attics, crawl spaces, walls or pipes, all require different types of insulation.
Types of insulation
a) Blanket batts and rolls
Blankets and insulation rolls may be made up of mineral wool, fiberglass, plastic fibers or natural fibers such as sheep wool or cotton.
The biggest advantage of insulation rolls is that these are easily available and can be installed in most areas of the house, like the attic, crawl spaces, ceilings, and unfinished floors.
On the downside, these have a low R value and so you will need a very thick layer of insulation for it to be effective.
b) Foam board
Foam boards are rigid insulation panels that can be fixed in almost any part of the house.
Their R value is higher than other materials of equal thickness and they are easy to install.
But these cannot be used on existing walls, unless the walls are knocked down, the boards installed and then drywalled again and painted.
c) Concrete blocks
Foundations and walls of houses can use concrete blocks for insulation while being built.
But heat can still pass through uninsulated concrete.
d) Sprayed foam insulation
Liquid foam insulation sprayed into walls or under roofs hardens into an insulation material. It offers greater insulation than batts and can seal tiny spaces which is impressive.
Of the two types of sprayed foam insulation, the closed-cell type is effective but quite expensive while the open-cell insulation can absorb water and thus cannot be used below ground level.
e) Blown-in insulation
Using recycled material, this is an environment friendly option in which insulation is blown into small spaces. But moisture is a big threat to this type of insulation.