Insulation - how it works

Insulation acts as a barrier to heat flow and is essential to keep your home warm in winter and cool in summer. A well insulated and well designed home will provide year-round comfort, cutting cooling and heating bills by up to half. This, in turn, will reduce greenhouse emissions.

Climatic conditions will influence the appropriate level and type of insulation you need in your suburb. Establish whether the insulation will be predominantly needed to keep heat out or in (or both). Insulation must cater for seasonal as well as daily variations in temperature. Please visit the Commonwealth Department of the Environment's Your Home Technical Manual for types of insulation & how much you'll need for your region in Australia.

Passive design techniques must be used in conjunction with insulation. For example, if insulation is installed but the house is not properly shaded, built up heat can be kept in by the insulation creating an 'oven' effect. Draught sealing is important, as draughts can account for up to 25 percent of heat loss from a home in winter.

Soundproofing is one of the benefits of installing cellulose insulation. No other leading residential ceiling insulation comes near cellulose for soundproofing performance.

The most economical time to install insulation is during construction.

Compare the environmental benefits of different products:

Insulation - terminology

Material R-values are supplied with bulk insulation and refer to the insulating value of the product alone.

System R-values should be supplied with all types of insulation for intended applications. This is the actual peformance level that can be expected when the insulation is installed.

R-values can differ depending on the direction of heat flow through the product. The difference is generally marginal for bulk insulation but can be pronounced for reflective insulation:

WHERE TO INSTALL INSULATION

Roofs and ceilings work in conjunction when it comes to insulation.

Verandah roofs should be insulated in hot climates where outdoor living spaces are used extensively, to reduce radiant heat gain. Heat build up under verandahs not only affects the space below but can affect conditions inside the house.

Bulkheads (wall sections between ceilings of different heights) must be insulated to the same level as the ceiling, as they are subjected to the same temperature extremes.

Save up to 45 percent on heating and cooling energy with roof and ceiling insulation.

External walls should be insulated to reduce radiant, conducted and convected heat transfer. Wall insulation can be installed:

Depending on the particular situation, some forms of insulation can double as a vapour or moisture barrier.

Save up to an additional 15 percent of heating and cooling energy with wall insulation.

Floors require insulation in cool climates and often in other climates.

Insulate the underside of suspended floors:

Insulate the edge of ground slabs:

Enclosing sub-floor spaces in mixed climates may be sufficient to reduce heat loss.

Save up to 5 percent on winter energy costs with appropriate floor insulation.

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