Why is insulation so important in my home?
Winter is usually the time when homeowners most feel the pressure of rising gas and electricity prices, which is why you'll need to take whatever steps possible to protect yourself.
One of the most effective ways of achieving this is to install insulation. Depending on what type you opt for, it can be relatively inexpensive and should help you save money in the long run.
Why is insulation so important?
Many new build properties come with plenty of insulation as standard so that they meet all the necessary environmental standards.
However, if you live in an older property then the chances are its insulation might be minimal. There are various advantages to installing insulation, besides the positive impact it can have on your energy bills.
Insulation works in two ways - it can cool your house in summer and help keep it warm when the winter months come around. As a result, you should find you don't need to switch on the air conditioner or heater quite so often.
In turn this will lower your carbon footprint and reduce your greenhouse gas emissions. Letting the insulation do the work for you means you don't have to resort to energy-consuming devices every time the temperature of your property needs adjusting.
This means you should find your home all the more comfortable to live in. You'll no longer find yourself constantly adjusting the thermostat - just let the insulation do the work for you!
Types of insulation
The insulation market has expanded rapidly over recent years, so you should find there is a type that suits your budget and your property.
You'll notice there are two main categories of insulation on the market - bulk and reflective.
Bulk insulation is designed to trap air within its structure, helping to keep your home warm when you need it most. Common materials used to make this type of insulation include glass wool, cellulose fibre and polystyrene.
Reflective insulation, on the other hand, provides thermal resistance and tends to be available as aluminium foil laminated onto paper or plastic. It's typically on offer in sheet form, so needs to be kept clean in order to ensure its optimum performance.
Whatever type of insulation you choose for your home, it's important to take a look at its R-value. Generally speaking, the higher the R-value the better the thermal performance, which means you should find your electricity and gas prices drop over the winter months.
It's also essential to make sure the insulation you are buying meets the relevant Australian standards and the Building Code of Australia. If you're not sure then check with the manufacturer.
Where to install insulation
There are some parts of your home that will benefit from insulation more than others, so it's worth being aware of what they are.
Your walls are an area where heat loss can often be most prominent. If your property doesn't already have wall insulation then it's worth receiving advice from a specialist fitter, who will be able to tell you exactly what can be done.
Controlling the flow of air through your walls will mean you no longer have to put up with those annoying draughts when the winter comes around.
Another popular place to install insulation is the roof. It's estimated you lose as much as 45 per cent of your heating and cooling energy through the roof, so it's important to pay special attention to it.
Both bulk and reflective insulation can be effective in your roof, so consult with an expert to determine which type is likely to be best for your needs.
One area that people don't give much attention to when it comes to insulation is their floor - and it can make a real difference. Carpets are a good option in the winter, but might not be quite as effective during the warmer months of the year.
Whatever option you choose for your floor, make sure it doesn't interfere with the natural cooling of the ground beneath your property.
Hot water pipes are also worth your attention. Some simple insulation can protect them during the winter and ensure they stay in full working order.
How to install insulation
There are some types of insulation you might be able to install yourself, such as laying rolls of bulk insulation in your attic or putting foam around pipes. However, there are some situations where you might need the input of an expert.
You'll find plenty of how-to guides online, but if you're not confident in your abilities there's no harm in getting someone in to do the job.
This is especially true for wall insulation, which is likely to require specialist tools and expertise. Make sure whoever you employ has the right qualifications to do a proper job, otherwise your insulation may not be as effective as you'd hoped.
Posted by Tim Wolfenden.