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Monday, February 28, 2011

HOW INSULATION WORKS

Clients and architects often ask us what the most important property is of a good insulation material, so with apologies to those of you who know it already, here is a short note on the basics.

To change the temperature of an object, energy is required in the form of heat to increase temperature (e.g. by using heaters), or reduce temperature (e.g. by using air conditioners). Once the heat generation or heat extraction stops, a reverse flow of heat happens and the temperature returns to ambient.

So, to maintain a comfortable temperature, considerable continuous energy is required, most of the year round. Insulation reduces this energy flow.


Thermal insulation acts as a barrier to the movement of heat,  therefore slowing down the escape of heat from a building in winter (when the outside temperature is lower) and the entry of heat into a building during summer (when the outside temperature is higher).


The resistance that insulation offers to the flow of heat is called its R-value. The higher the R-value, the more effective the insulation. The thicker the material, the higher its R-value. In practice, a unit of measurement called thermal conductivity is actually determined. This unit gives the speed that heat is transfered through a material. So the lower the thermal conductivty, the higher the R-value.

We will be exploring R-values in more detail soon, but for those of you who want to download fact sheets or tachnical data, do go to our website: http://www.eco-insulation.co.za/