Tip No 1: Understand What Insulation Does.
Insulation prevents heat loss, but it also does many other things. Take this into account before deciding what to use.
Indoor humidity and moisture levels vary depending on where we insulate and what we insulate with. Managing these the right way helps create a healthy building and improves indoor air quality.
Consider how insulation can reduce noise. Whether it’s reducing the sound of rain on the roof or noise between rooms, insulation plays an important role in creating a more comfortable indoor environment.
Heat gain during the summer often causes more problems than heat loss during the winter. Reduce heat gain by using natural fibre insulation. With just the right amount of thermal mass, natural fibre insulation slows the movement of heat into the building. This prevents heat reaching indoors during the hottest parts of the day.
Volatile organic compounds (VOC’s) arising from building products create poor indoor air quality. VOC’s are potentially harmful chemicals that evaporate from materials. Choose insulation with low VOC’s to lower sources of harmful indoor air pollutants. Indeed, insulation such as sheep’s wool actually cleanses the air of harmful VOC’s such as formaldehyde.
Home insulation Tips No 2
Get it right first time
Once insulation is installed it can be difficult to replace or upgrade. That’s why it’s important to get the best performance you can first time. Consider what you need the insulation to do and how it will perform. For example, do you have an older property where breathability is important or does outside noise bother you?
Use insulation materials that are made to last. These may be more expensive but during their life, cost is not significant. There is less chance you will need to replace good quality insulation.
You can model insulation performance before you buy. Insulation suppliers can conduct performance calculations that include U-value and condensation risk analysis. This service is usually offered free to end users and professionals. The calculations enable you to compare the performance of different insulation products.
Ensure insulation is properly fitted. There is no point selecting the best type of insulation and then being let down by poor workmanship. Make sure you fill the space correctly. Avoid creases, folds and gaps in the insulation and ensure all joints as sealed correctly.
The area you are insulating should be in good condition. Before you install insulation check for underlying problems such as damp. Insulation is not a solution for damp, not even natural fibre insulation. Sort out damp before insulating. Installing insulation over damp areas makes the problem worse.
Home insulation Tips No 3
Take time to work out how much insulation you need
You may need different amounts of insulation depending on the type and brand. Types of insulation behave differently and all brands are not equal. Insulation manufacturers and suppliers have experts that advise you on what thickness of insulation you need.
Sometimes, insulation is installed between timbers such as joists, studs or rafters. Work out the width of insulation you need by measuring the distance between the centre of the timbers. Then measure the total length of insulation you need. This is known as the linear metres of insulation. You can work out the quantity of insulation based on the total linear metres of each thickness. This method allows for the space taken up by timbers and reduces wastage.
Measure accurately and avoid over-ordering. This saves you as much as 10% or even 20% of the insulation cost. You also avoid generating needless waste and you’ll also save on the cost of disposal.
Home insulation Tips No 4
Don’t buy the cheapest insulation
Insulation is one of the few products that actually pays for itself so bear this in mind when you look at upfront cost. Even the most expensive insulation pays for itself.
Use the best performing insulation you can afford and make sure it lasts as long as possible. Choosing the cheapest option is a false economy. It is unlikely to last and you will pay for replacement. Remember, insulation will pay for itself in time.
Compare the cost of insulation based on the same level of performance. Some products may appear more expensive but you could need less of it.
You might think natural fibre insulation such as sheep’s wool is very expensive but that’s not the case. Sheep’s wool often costs less than man made materials such as PIR for the same level of thermal performance. What’s more, sheep’s wool is breathable and great for sound proofing.
Home insulation Tips No 5
Use combinations of insulation types for improved performance
Insulation does many things and different products behave differently. Some is better for reducing noise whilst other insulation has a very low thermal insulation value. Using different types in combination is a good way of making the best of each.
Using different insulation in combination can make installing easier. Use flexible insulation between timbers and rigid insulation against timbers to reduce the need for cutting, saving time and money.
You can also add to existing insulation if it’s in good condition. This is easiest done in the loft space. Add a layer of breathable natural fibre insulation to provide additional performance within an existing insulated roof.
Written by Mark Lynn, Thermafleece MD and Vice Chair of the ASBP.
Take a look at our FAQ’s for more information
Our Help and Advice Page has a number of Presentations and Briefing papers for you to read
For more information on Thermafleece Sheep’s Wool insulation visit www.thermafleece.com
Information on SupaSoft recycled plastic insulation can be found at www.supasoftinsulation.com