Top 10 Common Myths about Insulation

Insulation is vital part component in every building, whether it’s commercial or residential, new build or existing. Not only does insulation help keep the indoor environment cool during the summer and warm during the winter, it also reduces energy usage, spend and associated carbon emissions. With 40 percent of total energy demand and 36 percent of total CO2emissions coming from buildings in the EU, it’s now more important than ever to ensure where we are living and working are sustainable and energy efficient.

In this post we’ll explore the top 10 myths about insulation and what we can do to start reducing our energy consumption and start living in healthier homes.

1. Insulation is too expensive to consider

SEAI grants have been available for the past number of years that are not means-tested and are available to any homeowner with a home built before 2006. Scheme like the Better Energy Homes Scheme offer cash grants towards a variety of insulation applications such as cavity wall insulation and external wall insulation. Many electricity providers also offer incentives to help offset the cost, like KORE’s Electric Ireland Incentive.

While these schemes may not fully offset the cost of new insulation, it can substantially reduce the price you’ll pay out of pocket. This makes the return on your initial investment relatively short – and you’ll experience a more comfortable indoor environment right from the start. Not to mention the savings on your energy bills! 

2. Low U-values are all that matter

While we should be aiming for low U-values when installing insulation for both new build and retrofit applications, it’s important to note that it’s not only the number that matters. Insulation should be installed as part of a whole-home approach, meaning it’s installed properly using industry best practice. High quality and knowledgeable installers should also consider air tightness, draught proofing and sealing against moisture and condensation. Insulation installed in the correct location can eliminate thermal bridging, interstitial condensation risk and low surface temperatures. Ensuring Fsri values stay above the required 0.75 figure ensures protection against mould growth. In addition, proper ventilation should ensure clean, fresh air can still enter the home. 

3. Certain types of insulation can damage a home

When installed properly by a trained professional, insulation will not cause damage to a home. An on-site survey of the home prior to installation will ensure that the home is in an acceptable location and that the building itself is suitable for the proposed insulation. A knowledgeable and experienced installer will be able to identify these issues beforehand and recommend alternative solutions if needed.

4. Insulation only works during cold weather

Insulation is a year round investment. It keeps you warm during the winter and also keeps you cooler during the summer months. Properly installed insulation will work to slow the movement of heat between two spaces, keeping the indoor temperature comfortable whether it’s warm or cold outside. If you use an air conditioner during the summer you’ll notice a savings on your energy usage just like you would with your boiler during the winter.

5.  Insulation is only for energy efficiency and energy savings

First and foremost, insulation will increase the comfort level in the house and has been proven to increase the health of its occupants. While one immediate benefit of new insulation is increased energy efficiency of the home and energy savings on your heating and cooling bills, it’s by no means the only benefit.

External insulation gives the outside of the home a complete refresh. You can choose from a range of colours, renders and textures to suit your needs. Insulation also provides soundproofing (acoustic) benefits, softening external noises and even vibrations and noise from water pipes when pipe insulation is installed.

High quality insulation and proper installation can also protect the home from a variety of problems, including corrosion on pipes and ducts, condensation forming on other building elements by keeping the temperature above the dew point and can also prohibit the growth of mould and mildew, among other benefits.

New insulation will likely increase the Building Energy Rating of the home, increasing the home’s resale value if you decide to sell at a later date. It’s also a legal requirement to have a BER for most home sales. 

6. The more insulation, the better

While we are strong believers in the fabric first approach, there are other details to consider besides the thickness of insulation when either retrofitting or installing insulation in a new build. The air tightness of a building can be just as important as the insulation itself. It’s a good idea to take a whole-home approach when installing insulation, ensuring any defects that may cause air leakage are addressed. This includes draught proofing around windows and doors, ensuring any existing ventilation is clear of debris and in good condition, installing new ventilation if required, addressing any gaps or cracks in the fabric of the home itself, planning, designing and installing new insulation to minimise thermal bridging when at all possible and ensuring all measures are installed to industry best practice and all relevant regulations.

Blower door testing can be done to check for air leaks and determine the air infiltration rate of the home. Insulation is not designed to stop air leakage, so it’s important that this is considered to maximise the effectiveness of the product being installed.

7. The material I choose to insulate with doesn’t really matter

In fact, it does. The type of insulation will largely depend on the application and the construction of the home. For example, you wouldn’t install cavity wall insulation in a hollow block or timber frame home. Doing so could cause damage to the home and would not work correctly. Even the material you choose to insulate with needs to be considered. Some insulation types, like PIR insulation, off-gas over time. This means the insulation could lose some of its effectiveness as the building ages.

It’s important to work with a supplier and contractor that understands the importance of choosing the right type of insulation for each application. Your final decision should not just be based on cost, but the quality of the product and its proven effectiveness over time. Make sure the installer you work with is NSAI and SEAI registered, and that a warranty for the product itself and the labour are clearly stated.  

Common materials include fibre glass, mineral wool, PIR, EPS, XPS, cellulose and structural insulation panels.

8. It’s easy to insulate as a DIY project

Proper planning, design and installation is essential when installing new insulation. While it may seem like a good way to save money on labour, there are many details to consider. KORE recommends always working with a certified and approved installer when choosing to insulate your home or business. In fact, we recommend that our customers receive multiple quotes, check references and ensure that the contractor is properly licensed, certified and insured before any works begin. If choosing KORE EPS to insulate, you can view a list of approved installers directly on our website or by downloading our KORE Fill Register of Installers 

9. I’ll lose storage space by insulating my attic

Having adequate attic or roof insulation is vital for any home, but you don’t need to lose that valuable storage space just to insulate! Solutions like the KORE Loft Insulated Attic Flooring System help properly insulate an attic without losing access to services or storage space.  KORE Loft is comprised of Expanded Polystyrene fixed to a tongue and grooved chipboard sheet. Sitting on top of the joists in the attic, KORE Loft provides a secure and safe storage system while still allowing access to the water tank and other essential services. A suitable insulating material is installed between and above the joists in the attic to help obtain the required U-value.

10. Insulation only lasts for a few years

False! A property installed with a high quality insulation material should last the lifetime of the building with minimal maintenance. Materials like EPS do not degrade over time, are resistant to moisture and water, are not susceptible to rot and mould growth and can even be recycled. The return on investment for insulation is normally short, only taking a few years to recoup the initial cost.

 

What else have you heard about insulation? Make sure you share your common myths and misconceptions about insulation in the comments section below!

 

published:07 Aug 2018
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Join Ecological Building Systems and KORE Insulation for an nZEB and air tightness CPD seminar on the 22nd October in Athboy, Co. Meath

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