Performance characteristics and practical applications of common building thermal insulation materials
From reading this article, to achieve a thermal comfort house and achieve significant energy savings the designing of a house is critical at the early design stage. Selecting and integrating building components will contribute to solving energy problems. This will lead to resources being saved and the operating costs associated with producing energy reduced.
The author of this article makes some very good points and gives a lot of useful and very helpful information but will it suit every individual and home, can every one afford it.
Thermal insulating is a major contributor and logical first step in achieving energy efficiency. Insulating a building very well is not enough to achieve a passive house standard, if the building is not airtight it will lead to an uncontrolled air leakage which can occur due to cracks not filled in or repaired, including electrical outlets and light switches.
It is fair to say that a well insulated tight building will reduce costs and provide thermal comfort but it can also lead to a number of problems such as moisture accumulation stale air and air pollutants. This is why it is very important to have a good design when it comes to thermal insulation.
Moisture is one the biggest problems that can occur with lots of insulation or the wrong type. If moisture does penetrate into the thermal insulation it will cause physical damage and affects its performance, increasing its thermal conductivity. The four main conditions for moisture to accumulate and cause problems these are:
1. Moisture Source
2. Moisture Route for Travelling
3. Driving Force
4. Material Susceptible to Moisture Damage
Once you eliminate one of the four conditions above moisture can be controlled, this is very important so careful design and material selection play the main role in solving moisture problems. Examples of how easily moisture can penetrate into thermal insulation include:
- Plumbing or rain leaks
- Water vapour from people, showers, cooking.
- Liquid water movement from ground up into your basement
Thermal insulating requires a lot more planning and consideration than just getting your building tight and very well insulated, you must take into account a number of factors that contribute to your choice, see table below:
Ease of Construction
Building Code Requirements
Thermal insulating does not affect all buildings in the same way, factors affecting this are:
· Building type
· Component to be insulated
· Climate conditions
· Type of insulation
· Cost of insulating
· Maintenance cost
I agree that thermal insulation is the best way forward for reducing a lot of energy and resources being used, it requires a lot of planning and detail along with high costs to achieve such thermal insulation buildings, which would be worth it in the long run. Many people now are suffering from the recession and can not afford to insulate homes to this standard, but for any new buildings I would highly recommend it.