Insulation means saving energy, and that is becoming more and more essential on every level, from the personal to the global. People are increasingly conscious of the importance of environmental issues. One of the greatest contributions that any one household can make is to cut down on the unnecessary wastage of fossil fuels, and so to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere by burning them. This means making more efficient use of energy, and insulation has a big part to play in this. It saves money, too.
Insulation is a means of reducing heat transfer from a warm area to a cold one, and substantially reduces heat loss. In temperate countries, the external air temperature is below what most people regard as a comfortable level for much of the year, so heating is needed for fairly long periods and heat is constantly lost to the outside.
All materials conduct heat to a greater or lesser extent. Wood is a good insulator, brick an average one and glass is downright poor, as anyone who has sat next to a window on a cold winters day will testify.
Except in countries which have very cold winters, proper insulation of homes has until recently been a very low priority, both for house builders —who will not pay tot something that provides only a hidden benefit unless they have to — and for the legislators who frame the regulations and codes with which builders must comply. At last, however, the tide is turning, and current building rules call for much higher standards of insulation than ever before. They have also recognized that over-insulation can cause condensation, both inside the rooms and within the building’s structure.
Poor insulation, inadequate ventilation and poor heating levels can, in extreme cases, lead to patches of mould occurring around windows and inside fitted cupboards (closets).
Sources of Moisture
People themselves are a major source of the moisture in the air inside a building. Breath is moist and sweat evaporates; one person gives off 250 ml/1/2 pints of water during 8 hours of sleep: 3 times that during the day.
Domestic activities create even more moisture. cooking, washing up, a hot bath or shower, washing and drying clothes and so on can create as much as a further 10 to 12 litres/3 gallons of water a day, and every litre of fuel burnt in a Clueless oil or paraffin heater gives off toughly another litre of watervapour. The air in the house is expected to soak up all this extra moisture invisibly, but it may not be able to manage unaided. However, a combination of improved insulation and controlled ventilation will go a long way towards eliminating the problem of condensation.
This will not help people living in older properties, many of which were built with no thought to their insulation performance at all. Over the years, various attempts will have been made to insulate houses like these, but what was deemed adequate 20 years ago will he well below par for today.
Condensation is a big problem in many homes. It can lead to serious health problems and can also cause damage to the structure of the home.
The air always contains a certain amount of moisture – a lot on it humid summer’s day, less on a clear winter one. When the air at a particular temperature cannot hold any more moisture, it is said to have reached saturation point, described as a relative humidity of 100 per cent.
Air at saturation point is the key to the problem. If that saturated air is cooled — for example, by corning into contact with a surface SUCH.1 as a windowpane on a chilly day — it can no longer hold so much vapour. The excess moisture vapour in the air condenses into droplets of water, and these are deposited on the cold surface — first as a fine film that mists up the glass burthen, as more moisture is deposited, the droplets combine to form rivulets that run down the surface to create pools of water on the window sill. This can ruin decorations and cause window sills and frames to rot and rust; it can also cause2 further problems, both of which are potentially more serious.
Constant condensation ruins paintwork and will eventually cause wooden window frames and sills to rot.
Fit an extractor fan (exhaust fan) to control ventilation in a steamy room such as a kitchen or bathroom. The type linked to a humidity detector activates automatically.
Fit a special brush draught excluder over a letter-box opening, and also to the bottoms of doors to minimize heat. loss.
If the roof of your house is pitched(sloping), lay blanket insulation over the loft(attic) floor to prevent heat loss.
Glass is an extremely poor insulator. Secondary glazing, known as double glazing, can cut down on heat loss, provided that the inner panes are well-sealed to their tracks.
With a suspended floor, you can lift the floorboards and suspend blanket insulation on netting stapled to the joists. Lay a vapour barrier, such as heavy plastic sheeting, on top.
The first is mould. Apart from moisture vapour, the air also contains millions of tiny spores which float around looking for somewhere to live and multiply. The one thing they need is a damp surface. The result is the patches of black, brown or dark green mould seen especially around windows, in fitted cupboards (closets) and in the upper corners of those rooms that have poor insulation and ventilation and inadequate heating.
The second problem is interstitial condensation. if rho materials used to build walls, roofs and other parts of a building allow water vapour to penetrate, condensation can actually occur inside rho structure. If moisture cannot evaporate to the outside the affected part of the structure remains damp; this can then encourage rot to grow on wood, and may also result in frost damage to masons’ in cold weather, caused by the water expanding as it freezes. What is more, it damp wall has a lower resistance to the passage of heat than a dry one, and therefore becomes colder and encourages yet more condensation.
Always be aware that, no matter how well the home has been insulated, it is vital to ensure that it is well-ventilated too and that air can circulate freely to prevent the problems of condensation. When insulating your home it is essential to make allowances for air circulation by installing, for example, an extra air-brick, an extractor fan(exhaust fan) or window vents in a bathroom or kitchen, and even a cooker hood. Simply opening a window while cooking to allow steam out can make a difference. Fuel-horning appliances such as paraffin heaters, gas cookers, central-heating boilers and fires also require ventilation to work efficiently and to dispel potentially dangerous fumes.
Quick Ways to Insulate
Once icy winds begin to whistle around your home in the winter, you will soon find out where the chill gusts blow in and where all the expensive heat escapes. The following steps will all contribute to keeping your home warmer and energy-efficient.
Sash windows are notorious for draughts, and their sliding action calls for special weatherproofing. A brush seal (with soft bristles) against inside sliding faces and a V-strip seal where sashes close against the top and bottom of the frame are best.
in cold, wet conditions. Seal it with A flexible PVC (vinyl) or brush strip pinned to the outer face.
Keyholes can let in cold air, so put cover plates on the outside.
Fill gaps around overflow and wastepipes that pass through holes in exterior walls with an exterior-grade filler (spackle), mortar or an expanding foam filler.
Fill any gaps in windows that remain closed throughout the winter with flexible, clear sealant. Apply it with a mastic gun and, when you wish to operate the windows again, simply peel off the sealant and discard.
A porch built over a front or backdoor acts as an insulating barrier by preventing cold air from entering the house and keeping warm air in. It will also keep wet boots and coats from dripping over floors.
In addition to traditional sausage-shaped door draught excluders, door curtains are a very effective way of redirecting heat loss, and can also add a decorative finish to rooms.
Insulate the wall immediately behind a radiator by simply placing tinfoil behind it to reflect the heat back