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What is insulation?

What is insulation?

Posted on 03 July, 2023

Insulation is used within domestic and commercial properties to prevent heat gain or loss. This reduces the amount of energy you need to use, and in turn, saves you money.

Insulation comes in a variety of different forms, determined by where it’s required in the property. If you don’t use effective insulation, you could lose up to 50% of your heating, as it will go through the walls and roof of the property.

How does insulation work?

Before you can understand how insulation works, it’s important to know about heat flow. Heat flow is how heat moves; heat always moves from warmer areas to colder areas.

This sort of movement is why your house gets colder in winter because head leaks from inside the building to the colder environment outside of the building. It’s also why it gets hotter in summer because your house is colder than the environment outside of the building.

In principle, Insulation works by resisting heat flow.

There are three heat transfer mechanisms that you need to be aware of too, which are: Convection, Conduction, and Radiation. Thermal insulation is designed to restrict heat transfer, using the above mechanisms.

Heat Convection

Heat convection takes place through the movements of either liquids or gasses. Convection is one of the main causes of your house cooling down quickly when there’s windy weather outside. The heat is blown away from the house quickly in high winds.

If your house is well sealed, then you can insulate against convection heat loss effectively.

Conduction Heat Transfer

This type of heat transfer occurs when the molecules in one part of the substance moves faster when it heats up. The molecules transfer the heat to other molecules, and so on. Materials such as stone conduct the heat well, but the molecules in substances such as insulation are poor conductors.

Radiation Heat Transfer

Finally, this type of heat transfer doesn’t need direct contact or the air blowing to work. Instead, electromagnetic waves, or infra-red light, which is invisible to the human eye. Radiation heat transfer is why surfaces such as black tarmac gets hot on a sunny day.

If you want to reduce this form of heat transfer, you can use a surface with low emissivity, such as multi-foil insulation.

What types of insulation are available?

There are different types of insulation available depending on your needs, which are:

  • Superfoil multi-foil- This type of foil insulation can be used in roofs, floors, walls, and other designs. It’s been specially designed to stop all three types of heat transfer mechanisms. Anyone interested in DIY can install this type of insulation.
  • Bubble foil- This works similarly to multi-foil insulation. You can use it to insulate sheds, garages, or storage areas. Similarly, to multi-foil insulation, anyone interested in DIY will be able to install it.
  • Foam board insulation- this is a traditional type of insulation which many homes will have already. You typically use it between rafters or studs. Because it’s so heavy, you’ll probably want to hire someone to install it.
  • Glass wool insulation- Another traditional type of insulation, usually found within an attic. It’s the cheapest type of insulation available. If you’re installing or handling this type of insulation, you need specialist protective equipment, as it can irritate your skin.

If you have any questions regarding insulation or any of our products, please contact our BC Profiles Customer Support Team.

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