Insulation keeps 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 and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
In winter, ceilings lose 25–35 per cent of heat; walls 15–25 per cent; windows 10–20 per cent; and floors 10–20 per cent. About 15–25 per cent is lost as draft. Insulation can be placed in the ceiling or roof, as well as floors and external walls. The most cost-effective time to install insulation is during the construction phase. But it can be retrofitted.
Apart from helping to maintain a more comfortable home, insulation acts to weatherproof or draught-seal houses and eliminate moisture or condensation problems. Some types of insulation also has soundproofing qualities.
The appropriate degree of insulation depends on climate, building construction type, and whether auxiliary heating and/or cooling is to be used.
There are two main types of insulation – bulk and reflective which are sometimes combined into a composite material.
Bulk insulation relies on pockets of air trapped within its structure to resist the transfer of conducted and convected heat – examples include glass wool, wool, cellulose fibre, polyester and polystyrene.
Reflective insulation resists radiant heat flow due to its high reflectivity and ability to re-radiate heat – examples include shiny aluminium foil laminated onto paper or plastic available as sheets (sarking), concertina-type batts and multi-cell batts.
All insulation materials that are sold in Australia must meet Australian Standard AS/NZS 4859 materials for thermal insulation of buildings, even if they are imported.
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