Thermal insulation is not simply about keeping out the cold, it is also about maintaining a comfortable ambient temperature indoors and reducing the amount of energy consumed in homes offices and other buildings.
To use the scientific terminology, thermal insulation reduces the transfer of heat between adjacent environments. Having the right amount of insulation and using the right type of material will ensure a good balance between letting heat escape when the temperature is hot outside and keeping it in during cold spells.
If a building is insulated correctly, no matter what the weather is doing externally, the affect on the indoor temperature shouldn’t vary a great deal.
Various kinds of materials are used to insulate houses and offices with most popular material being Fibre glass. Foamed plastic is also used widely, as well as mineral wool, and even cotton slag. There are new materials being trialled all the time with many recycled materials proving to be interesting alternatives.
Aerogel is one insulation technology that is expected to grow rapidly in popularity in the future. The material once formed the basis of insulation for the space shuttle and consists of 95% air. The downside is it currently costs several times more to use this material than others on the market.
Depending on the time of year, having a large amount of thermal insulation can be either a good or a bad thing. The issue was reported by the Daily Mail this month when they highlighted how some homes are actually too hot in the summer.
Experts are now suggesting the drive towards greener homes may be putting people’s health at risk in cases where insulation has been overdone. This can be the case in modern flats where developers keen to display their eco-friendly approach have ended up making some areas of buildings uncomfortably hot during the summer months.
The issue was raised to the fore as a result of the recent heatwave where temperatures soared into the 30s and people were left sweltering indoors with temperatures rising above the healthy limit of 25 degrees.
Ironically, heat related deaths caused by global warming are expected to triple to 7,000 people a year. The problem is particularly likely to affect the elderly, the obese and people with chronic illnesses and it is unlikely that anything can be done to reverse the drive towards better insulation for homes.
In the future there may need to be some balance restored between creating houses that don’t use more fuel than they need to during winter, yet still be cool enough to be comfortable to live in during the summer months. Fitting the right type of thermal insulation is the obvious solution to this particular problem.