Thermal insulation is used in homes and buildings to provide temperature control and comfort to its inhabitants. It improves the efficacy of heating and cooling systems and decreases their energy demands. Some of the types of materials used include cellulose, glass wool, rock wool, polystyrene, urethane foam, vermiculite, and soil. R-value is a quantification system used to determine the effectiveness of the barrier without considering other factors such as construction quality or local environment.
Acoustic insulation reduces sound by an increasing distance between sound and receiver, using noise barriers, using damping structures or anti-noise generators. This type of noise reduction is effective at either reducing or absorbing sounds. Often, buildings such as apartments will use a combination of both techniques to obtain superior sound control. Reduction of noise limits the movement of sound waves via distance and intervening objects. Absorption of noise utilizes echoes, reverberations, resonance and reflection. Moisture is also an important acoustic insulator as wetness can significantly reduce and distort sound travelling through it.
Electrical insulation uses material that resists electric current flow to protect the conduction of electricity and prevent shocks or fires. Material that can be used as electrical wire protection must have atoms with tightly bonded valence electrons. This type of barrier may be used on electrical equipment, conductors, electric power transmission support, utility poles, or utility pylons. Examples of good electrical insulators include glass, paper, and Teflon. Rubber-like polymers are not as good, but get the job done with lower resistance and are practical and safe for low to moderate voltage.
Many homeowners choose to add thermal insulation to their existing home to increase energy efficiency and reduce monthly bills. Getting in touch with a qualified and experienced energy auditor will help you decide where to add new insulation based on how much you already have and where. They will also inspect and evaluate the attic, walls, floors, garage, basement and other structural elements to determine which type of was originally installed.
Types of home insulators vary depending on their use, cost, and location of installation in the home. Fibreglass blankets and rolls are used in unfinished walls, floors and ceilings. Vermiculite or perlite pellets require masonry skill and are popular with new construction jobs or major renovations. Polystyrene foam boards can be used in unvented low-slope roofs but must be covered with half of an inch of gypsum board for fire safety. Loose-fill cellulose is often used in unfinished attic floors or hard-to-reach places. Fibreglass or mineral rock wool works well in unconditioned ducts and other spaces that can withstand high temperatures. Sprayed cementitious or phenolic foam can be used in open new wall cavities and unfinished attic floors and works well for adding insulation to existing finished areas. Structural insulated panels made of foam board or straw core are used in walls, ceilings and floors of new construction projects.
The most common places to add insulating material in a new or existing home are attic spaces such as access doors and knee walls, ducts, cathedral ceilings, exterior walls, floors above unheated garages, and basement foundations or crawl spaces.