The three T’s of energy efficiency

26 March 2019 Kingspan Insulation Asia
air-con building

Increasing energy costs, global warming, and increasing health concerns are all contributing to the new focus on creating energy efficient buildings.

As the cost of electricity rises, attention has turned to energy consumption in our homes. Finding the best ways to alleviate the financial pressure that comes with each new power bill in our letterboxes has resulted in us reducing our usage.

The impact of greenhouse gases on the environments and the ever-growing threat of the impacts of global warming on our planet has resulted in a search for more sustainable options and more of a focus on how our actions are impacting the world we live in.

An increase in awareness towards health and wellbeing in our society has made us more aware of the materials and environments we are surrounding ourselves with on a daily basis.

The answer to all of this? Energy efficient buildings.

Buildings that are energy efficient require less cooling and heating systems, resulting in lower energy costs, less greenhouse gases, and a healthy more comfortable environment.

The three T’s surrounding energy efficiency are the key steps in ensuring you can design and build a home that is capable of keeping you warm in winter, cool in summer, and not cost you the earth (or your health). 

Thermal Mass

Thermal mass refers to a material’s ability to absorb and store heat energy. Low density materials such as timber and weatherboard cladding have low thermal mass, making the amount of time for the materials to change temperature lower than that of higher-density materials such as brick and concrete.

Using higher density materials for your walls can have a huge impact on the energy efficiency of your building as it greatly reduces the need for heating and cooling systems to regulate inside temperatures.

When utilised correctly, the use of thermal mass can moderate indoor temperatures by equalling out the day-night temperature extremes. When used incorrectly, your walls can absorb all the heat you produce trying to keep warm on a chilly winters night or release heat inside when you are sleeping through a summer heatwave.

Insulation plays a big part in aiding the thermal performance of walls when it comes to thermal mass. Double brick cavity walls have high thermal mass and can be exponentially improved by the inclusion of insulation to the cavity.

Thermal Performance

The thermal performance of your walls, floors and ceilings can greatly affect the energy efficiency of your building. When considering the three T’s, taking insulation in to consideration can play a huge part in increasing your building’s thermal performance.

The thermal performance of your building affects the amount of heat being transferred between the inside and outside environments. Increasing the thermal performance of a building decreases the ability of heat to move between the two environments.

In order to measure the thermal performance of a section of a building, a Total Resistance Value (RT-Value) is provided. This value measures the total thermal performance of that component of the building. The higher the RT-Value, the better the thermal performance.

A double brick cavity wall for example, has an average thermal performance of RT-Value of R0.68m²K/W. When insulation is included in the cavity, the RT-Value will increase. For example, by including Kingspan AIR-CELL Permicav XV flexible insulation in the cavity of the same double-brick cavity wall, the RT-Value would increase to R1.8m²K/W, thereby improving the thermal wall performance by 165%

Insulation has been used for years to increase the thermal performance of buildings and as technology evolves, and the thermal performance of insulation increases, the ability to block the transfer of heat has increased.

Thermal Bridging

Thermal bridging occurs when there is a discontinuous break in a layer and lower thermal performing material creates a bridge across the material, allowing heat to be transferred.  Thermal bridges can come in all shapes and sizes but is most commonly found in the framing of our walls and our windows and doors.

When we think of insulation we often think of batt-insulation that fills the gaps between the framing in our walls, but in order to combat thermal bridging a continuous insulation solution should be used (such as flexible insulation or rigid board insulation). Continuous insulation can be installed over framing and other thermal bridges to create a constant and consistent barrier that blocks the transfer of heat.

Insulation cannot be used to block the transfer of heat through windows or doors but there are other methods that can be implemented in order to decrease the effects of thermal bridging. Double glazed windows can be installed to increase the thermal performance of the window or thicker, sealed doors can be used to increase the thermal performance of your doors. Thermally broken frames can also be used to improve the overall window or doors performance.

By addressing thermal bridging and adopting continuous insulation solutions the risk of thermal transfer is decreased significantly.
These three simple elements build the basic understanding of how to design and build an energy efficient home. Understanding and implementing these elements will aid you in reducing the energy costs in your home, provide a healthier and more comfortable environment for its occupants, and reduce the overall impact on the environment.

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