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Inspecting and Evaluating Your Insulation

Products with the same R-value have the same insulating performance if installed as specified. Check the information supplied on the product, including the R-value, the price per square metre and whether it must be installed professionally or can be DIY — some types of insulation require the use of masks and protective clothing. Ensure that it suits your particular application and fits within the space available.

Tips & Advice

Ask if performance guarantees or test certificates are available. Compare the environmental benefits of different products. Ask about recycled content and how easily the product can be recycled after use. For example, some brands of glass wool, polyester and cellulose fibre insulation contain significant amounts of recycled material. Contact the manufacturer or industry association to find out more. The BCA sets out minimum requirements for the R-values of materials used in the construction of buildings.

It is generally advisable to exceed these for greater comfort and energy savings.

How to insulate your home

Material R-values are supplied with bulk insulation and refer to the insulating value of the product alone. The higher the R-value the better the thermal performance. Total R-values are supplied with reflective insulation and depend on the product being installed as specified. 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. Up and down R-values should be quoted when installing reflective insulation in roofs, ceilings and floors.

Bulk insulation mainly resists the transfer of conducted and convected heat, relying on pockets of trapped air within its structure. Its thermal resistance is essentially the same regardless of the direction of heat flow through it.

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Bulk insulation includes materials such as glass wool, wool, cellulose fibre, polyester and polystyrene. All bulk insulation products come with one material R-value for a given thickness. Reflective insulation mainly resists radiant heat flow due to its high reflectivity and low emissivity ability to re-radiate heat.

It relies on the presence of an air layer of at least 25mm next to the shiny surface.

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The thermal resistance of reflective insulation varies with the direction of heat flow through it. Reflective insulation is usually shiny aluminium foil laminated onto paper or plastic and is available as sheets sarking , concertina-type batts and multi-cell batts. Together these products are known as reflective foil laminates, or RFL. Dust settling on the reflective surface greatly reduces performance. Face reflective surfaces downwards or keep them vertical. The anti-glare surface of single sided foil sarking should always face upwards or outwards.

Total values depend on where and how the reflective insulation is installed. Ensure system values provided by the manufacturer relate to your particular installation situation. Composite bulk and reflective materials are available that combine some features of both types.

Home Insulation & Reduced Heat Loss | Energy Saving Trust

Examples include reflective foil faced blankets, foil backed batts and foil faced boards. The properties and uses of some common insulation materials are summarised at the end of this article. The following table gives the minimum insulation levels required by the BCA for a range of locations. Some experts believe that additional insulation can further improve building performance. The table does not distinguish between directional R-values for roofs and ceilings.

In high humid climates where houses are naturally ventilated, high down values and lower up values are appropriate for roofs and ceilings. To reduce the risk of electrical short circuiting, electrically conductive insulation must not be laid across ceiling surfaces or ceiling joists, or under subfloors. Electrically conductive insulation must also be secured with non-conductive staples.

Veranda roofs should be insulated in hot climates where outdoor living spaces are used extensively, to reduce radiant heat gain. Heat build-up under verandas 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.

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. Floors require insulation in cool climates and often in other climates. Insulate the underside of suspended floors:. Insulation can be added to existing buildings with varying effectiveness and cost depending on the construction type and where the insulation is being placed.

Ceilings and suspended floors with easy access are relatively simple to insulate post-construction. Insulation board can be laid beneath floor finishes if there is no under-floor access. Walls and skillion roofs are the hardest to insulate after construction, as the internal or external lining must be removed. A good time to insulate walls is during recladding or replastering. Specialised products are available to insulate existing walls: check with your local building information centre. External insulation or if local building regulations permit cavity fill are often appropriate solutions for cavity brick walls.

Adding insulation to existing buildings can greatly increase comfort and reduce energy costs and greenhouse gas emissions. An ideal time for doing this is during renovations. Insulation can be retrofitted to various construction types. Most walls benefit from added insulation, and it is possible to add insulation to most construction types used in Australia. Autoclaved aerated concrete AAC already has a reasonable degree of insulation built into the blocks themselves, and straw bale is an extremely highly insulated system.

Apart from these exceptions, added wall insulation is essential in all climates. If it is not already fitted, or if existing insulation levels are not high enough, there are ways of installing it as a retrofit. Cavity brick walls have high thermal mass, but without insulation are usually too cold in winter and often too hot in summer if exposed to prolonged heat wave conditions. If the cavity is insulated, the internal thermal mass i.

Insulate existing cavities by sealing the bottom of the cavity if it is open to the subfloor, and pumping in loose bulk material to a measured density. This has been common practice in the UK and Europe for many years, and is becoming available in Australia, usually in one of the following forms:. Brick veneer walls have the brick skin on the outside, which is not the ideal location for thermal mass.

The bricks heat up in summer and radiate heat late into the evening, while in winter they stay cold and absorb heat from the house. Insulation is essential to protect the occupants from external temperature extremes exacerbated by the external brick skin. Reverse brick veneer is much more thermally efficient because the thermal mass is on the inside; however, good insulation is still important to maintain thermal comfort see Thermal mass. Timber framed walls are low mass construction, and rely entirely upon insulation to maintain thermal comfort.

The two cavity fill methods previously described — polystyrene balls or mineral fibres — can be used to insulate these wall types if the lining or cladding is not being removed. More material may be required, as it fills up not only the cavity but the width of the wall frame brick veneer and reverse brick veneer.

However, the effectiveness of existing reflective sarking is greatly diminished by replacing the airspace with fill material. For timber frame walls, insulation is pumped into the voids between studs and noggings, but this can be labour intensive. The ideal option, if the scope of the renovation permits, is to remove the internal plasterboard linings or external cladding and fit insulation into the stud frame.

Either bulk or reflective insulation can be retrofitted to existing wall frames by either cutting up a roll and fitting the pieces between each wall stud, or by using a factory prepared product such as bulk batts, concertina foil batts or multi-cell foil batts, which are easy to install and expand or fold into place. Reflective foil-backed plasterboard is also a useful material. There is usually sufficient depth in a wall frame to add more than one layer of reflective insulation, including the necessary air gap of 25mm between layers.

When installing from the room side, the foil should not have an antiglare coating on it. Bulk insulation rated R2. It is important to choose the correct thickness of insulation to suit the thickness of the cavity. Do not compress bulk insulation. When used in conjunction with a layer of wall wrap foil, ensure there is an air space of at least 25mm between the batt and the reflective surface of the wall wrap foil see Insulation installation.

Single skin high mass walls such as concrete block, rammed earth or mud brick can have their thermal performance significantly improved by installing insulation on the wall exterior. The simplest method is to use polystyrene board with an external render, or batts fixed between battens at around mm centres, covered with a waterproof cladding see Insulation installation; Thermal mass. It is possible to add insulation to all roof types common in Australia and, even if some effort is required to lift roofing, the benefits make it well worthwhile.

Ceiling fires have increased significantly with the more common use of downlights that penetrate the ceiling. Take care to ensure that minimum clearances around downlights are maintained and that transformers are not covered by the insulation. Wherever possible avoid recessed light fittings as these are a major source of heat loss. Tiled roofs without sarking can have it added easily if the roof is being re-tiled.

If the tiles are to remain in place and the roof space is accessible, you can add double sided foil or foil batts between the rafters or trusses, directly under the tile battens. Metal roofs need a condensation barrier directly beneath them: a layer of reflective foil sarking is an effective membrane and a barrier to radiant heat, thus doing two jobs at once. It is usually necessary to remove the roofing to install it, but most metal roofing can be removed and reinstalled easily, without damage. Always maintain a minimum air gap of 25mm between layers. If the roof is being painted to restore colour, select the lightest colour permissible heat-reflective roof paints are also an option and then match the remaining colour scheme to it.

Ceiling insulation is simple to fit if the roof space is accessible. If the house has a flat roof or raked ceilings, there will be no access into the space except by removing and reinstalling the roofing or the ceiling lining. Reflective foil backed plasterboard could be used in this situation, but may not provide sufficient insulation if used on its own see Insulation installation ; it will also gather dust on any upward-facing reflective surface and rapidly become ineffective. Raised timber floors should have subfloor access, with soil clearance of around mm below the lowest timbers.

This provides sufficient access to install insulation. However, it does require trimming as the expansion will push the foam past the face of your studs. A separate but related option is non-expanding sprayed-in insulation. The majority of this article comes from the position of adding insulation to a traditional shipping container. However, there is another option: purchasing an insulated shipping container that is used to carry cold products like flowers and produce.

There are a lot of pros and cons to this option, and the discussion is best addressed in our article dedicated to the subject.

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A green or living roof is a garden of sorts on your roof, with various grasses and other plants. An additional benefit of green roofs is that they look cool! From the sky, your container will look like just another patch of ground. While the other types of insulation mentioned above work to slow the transmission of heat energy via conduction and to a lesser degree convection , we still have radiation to think about. Be careful to notice the difference between paint and coatings that are specifically designed to reflect and emit radiation energy. Coatings are specifically designed to reflect the invisible infrared light of thermal energy, and though they may look similar to paint, they work much differently.

Our article on cool roof coatings explains this much more in-depth. Another option is designing your home in such a way that it minimized the amount of energy needed to heat and cool it. There are a variety of techniques that attempt to achieve this, which are beyond the scope of this article. Examples include Trombe Walls, Solar Chimneys, and others. The effectiveness of these techniques vary dramatically based on your climate. You have quite a few insulation options at your disposal, and what you choose is driven by factors like your climate, design, and budget.

All choices have their pros and cons, but now you have a better understanding of what those are. For instance, you could use closed-cell polyurethane spray foam insulation for the container walls and roof, and then use rock wool blankets underneath the container to keep the cost down. You can even combine insulation in the same area.

For example, you could use rock wool underneath the container and then spray an inch of closed-cell polyurethane foam over the rock wool to create an airtight seal. For more related information, check out our articles on how to keep your container cool and how to keep your container warm. Let us know below what you think of the various insulation options available to shipping container home builders.

Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment. Is a Container Home right for you? Sign up for our newsletter and join thousands of others who receive our helpful container building tips and updates, plus get our FREE Cheat Sheet. No spam and you can easily unsubscribe. Read our Privacy Policy here. We use confirmation emails to ensure that someone else doesn't sign you up against your wishes. You won't hear from us again unless you confirm. Your confirmation email will be on it's way shortly.

Just click the link in the email to confirm your subscription, then you'll be taken to the download page for your free Cheat Sheet. What is insulation? Why do you need container home insulation? How climate affects your insulation decision If you are lucky enough or easy-going enough! Factors to consider when choosing shipping container insulation Deciding on the best insulation for your home is less straightforward than you think.

Non-traditional Insulation This category of insulation is made up of materials that somewhat unconventional, often are chosen at least in part for their eco-friendliness, and are usually consider cheap insulation. Varieties of blanket insulation include: Fiberglass: Made from superheated sand or recycled glass that is spun into thin fibers. In western countries, this is the most common type of cheap wall insulation. Pricier, but with a very high percentage of recycled contents Blanket insulation is quite permeable to water vapor, which in traditional construction can be mitigated with a vapor retarder.

Loose-Fill Insulation This type of insulation is based on applying small macroscopic easily viewable with the naked eye chunks of insulating media into a wall cavity. Expanded Foam Insulation Expanded foam is manufactured offsite into large boards and panels that are pre-sized for typical wall heights. Open-Cell Spray Polyurethane Foam ocSPF : The less desirable type of polyurethane spray foam, as it has a lower R-value per inch due to the allowance of air movement between cells. Provides one of the highest R-values per inch and forms a nice vapor retarder.

There is some concern with off-gassing after spray application, so be sure to check with your manufacturer about cure times and how long to wait before occupancy. The gas in these closed-cell variants can sometimes escape the cells and cause a reduced R-value over time. Damp-Spray Cellulose: Made from recycled paper products that are shredded. As opposed to the normal blown-in application, a special rig can be used that adds water or adhesives at the point of application called damp-spraying , which binds the cellulose together and enables it to be applied to open-sided wall cavities.

How to Insulate Walls and Ceilings -- by Home Repair Tutor

Refrigerated Shipping Containers The majority of this article comes from the position of adding insulation to a traditional shipping container. Passive Heating and Cooling Design Another option is designing your home in such a way that it minimized the amount of energy needed to heat and cool it. Summary You have quite a few insulation options at your disposal, and what you choose is driven by factors like your climate, design, and budget.

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