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Home Insulation Explained: What Insulation, Where & Why

Insulation should be an essential component of any home, but what exactly does it do and how do you choose the right products for your home?

Why do I need to insulate my home?

There are two key reasons why every home should be insulated: comfort and energy efficiency. Home insulation is the best way to help keep your home at a pleasant temperature and reduce your reliance on artificial heating and cooling. Let’s take a closer look at how it works.

In normal conditions, heat – thermal energy – will tend to move from hotter areas to cooler areas until the temperature is equal everywhere. You can see why this might be an issue on a blistering summer’s day or a chilly winter morning. If the air is really hot outside, it will try and creep indoors until your home is as hot as it is outside. If the air in your home is toasty but it’s cold outside, your lovely warm air is going to try and escape.

That’s where insulation comes in. Put simply, insulation is any material that slows down the flow of heat. That means insulated homes can more effectively regulate temperatures inside their home. Insulation works passively, which means it doesn’t use any electricity to keep your indoor climate comfortable. What’s more, if you do need to turn on the air-con or heater, insulation will help them do their job more efficiently. And efficient heating and cooling means more savings on your power bill and less impact on the environment.

Get more benefits by choosing a higher R-Value

The R-Value of an insulation product refers to how effective it is at resisting heat flow. The higher the R-Value, the more effective it is and the greater benefits there’ll be for your home. In Australia, there are minimum R-Values you should meet depending on the area of your home that you are insulating. However, if you can afford to upgrade to a higher value, it is worth the investment as you will see greater savings on your power bill.

The table below shows our recommendations for the minimum R-Value you should get based on where you live.

  Ceiling & Roof Insulation Wall Insulation
Brisbane, Perth, Northern NSW R 4.0 – R5.0 R2.0
Melbourne, Sydney, Adelaide R5.0 – R6.0 R2.5

What parts of my home should I insulate?

To experience maximum benefits, you should insulate all areas of your home, including the roof and ceiling, internal and external walls, floors and between floors if your home is double-storey. Home insulation works best when all areas are insulated because then heat has less ways to escape or creep in.

Roof & Ceiling Insulation

The roof and ceiling cavity are the most important areas to insulate as they are responsible for the greatest proportion of a home’s heat loss and gain – as much as 35%.

Ceiling insulation batts can be installed during the building phase in a new home, or retrofitted in an existing home. They are typically made from glasswool or polyester and come precut to fit between the ceiling joists of most Aussie homes. In the roof, reflective foil insulation plays an important role in reflecting radiant heat from the sun away from your home.

Wall Insulation

External walls are very important to insulate as 15%-25%  of a home’s heat loss and gain occurs through them. Internal wall insulation is also very valuable as it can help you create climate zones in your home for more efficient heating and cooling.

The best time to install wall insulation is during building or renovation before the walls are sealed. Glasswool, polyester or rockwool batts are an excellent choice for walls as they are very effective at reducing heat transfer. Investing in specialised acoustic insulation for the external and internal walls can help create a more private and peaceful indoor environment while still giving you all the thermal benefits of traditional insulation.

Underfloor Insulation

Underfloor insulation stops heat being lost or gained through the floor and can make a tangible difference to the comfort of your home. Insulation rolls and batts can be installed before the floor has been laid in a new home or underneath a pre-existing floor. Extruded Polystyrene (XPS) insulation panels can be laid before the concrete foundation is poured to help prevent heat loss and gain through your floor.

Mid-floor Insulation

Often forgotten, insulation between the floors of a multi-storey home can make a significant difference to the energy efficiency and acoustic quality of the home. Noises from upstairs such as footsteps and loud appliances can be quieted by installed specialised acoustic batts. These will also help you to heat and cool your home more efficiently by slowing down the flow of heat between downstairs and upstairs areas.

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