Having just entered autumn, the weather is becoming increasingly unstable and inconsistent. Despite regularly being placed as the number one most livable city in the world, it’s clear that our climate often dictates on any given day that we wear shorts, yet take an umbrella out with us. Given these extreme variations in weather conditions, there is no doubt we want to ensure we stay cool in summer and warm in winter, and well balanced on the days on which conditions are more prone to swinging.
While good clothing can help us with this when we are out, what do we do when we are at home? Many of us rely on air conditioners and heaters to quickly change the temperature in our space, which is great when you initially want to move your home into a more desirable climate. However, in the long run, something more is needed. And that something is insulation.
Well fitted insulation is the best way to organically treat a home so that it is well weather proofed. A home that has been insulated properly is much more resistant to external weather conditions, reducing how much heat is let in during summer and out during winter. Now, you might be wondering: What if I live in a home that isn’t insulated already? Can I still reap the benefits of insulation?
Fortunately, the answer is a resounding yes. Thanks to the many advances in the field of insulation over the last 30 years, it’s becoming easier and easier to fit existing homes with insulation. While it’s a simpler process to install insulation in a new home (for obvious reasons), there are ways to fit it after the fact. This process of fitting insulation in an existing home is known as retrofitting.
What is Retrofitting?
If you’ve ever heard the terms “retrofit” or “retrofitting”, you might be wondering what exactly they mean. Simply put, retrofitting a home or any other building is to install insulation in it, after it has already been built. It can also refer to re-insulating a property, which usually only needs to happen if insulation is not correctly installed from the get go.
New construction insulation refers to the process of installing insulation during the build process of a property. The benefits of installing insulation during the construction process include much higher cost effectiveness and convenience. It’s cost effective because in order to fit insulation later, you may need to hire furniture movers, or even move things around yourself, if you’re retrofitting your floors. It’s convenient, because you won’t experience any interruptions in living conditions, which mainly happen when floors are retrofitted.
When insulating during the build stage of a home, the entire construction phase is also sped up because the insulation covers much of the inner of the building, allowing for internal works to proceed without interruption, and regardless of whether or not bricking or cladwork has been completed.
Benefits of Retrofit Insulation
Insulation is extremely useful in any home or building which people spend time in, work in, and live in. Once you invest in a well insulated space, you will get to experience a whole host of excellent benefits that come with it. To begin with, the purpose of insulation is to create a higher level of thermal efficiency in a building. Thermal efficiency is basically the measure of the ability of a building to reduce heat transfer from the sun. The higher the thermal efficiency, the more comfortable the climate of a space is. To maximise thermal efficiency, insulation is absolutely essential, and creates the best chance of having great internal temperature, no matter what time of the year it is.
What usually happens next is that people who live in well insulated homes begin to notice that they are saving a good amount of money on their gas and electricity bills. Most people find that when their home is organically capable of maintaining a comfortable climate on its own, thanks to insulation, they wind up using their heaters and air conditioners much less. This notable reduction in the use of energy appliances results in significant savings in gas and electricity bills. Once you understand this, it’s easy to see how your initial investment in insulation can be recouped relatively quickly in the form of savings on your bills.
Many people believe that the greatest advantage of installing insulation is the fact that it can help you to reduce your carbon footprint. By drastically limiting your use of heaters and coolers, you cease to take excess natural resources from our planet and contribute to the preservation of it. Given how much damage has already occurred to planet earth, it’s good to know that you can still do something small to play a part in reversing it. To top it all off, insulation creates a layer of soundproofing in your property, which means you get to experience more quiet and less noise. You can also make more noise at home, with less of it escaping your space into your neighbours ears.
Statistics on Retrofit Insulation
Studies conducted regarding insulation in Victoria have shown that over 50% of a household energy budget can be spent on heating and cooling for a home, with this figure being drastically altered for the better once insulation is installed. Without insulation, the walls of a home allow 25% of the heat to escape a home in winter and enter during summer. When it comes to windows, heat escaping is anywhere between 10-15% in winter and absorption can increase up to 35% in summer, with heat loss through the floor reaching up to 20-25%. Because heat rises, the roof of a home allows for up to 35% of heat to escape, and absorbs roughly the same percentage in summer.
When you consider these figures, it’s clearly a no brainer to install insulation at home. With numbers like this, it’s no wonder that many people are constantly running their heaters and air conditioners in overdrive. With properly installed insulation however, no longer does this need exist.
Materials Used in Retrofitting Insulation
When retrofitting insulation, the materials do not really vary from what they would be when installing insulation in a home during the construction phase. In either case, there are a few major materials used:
- Reflective/Radiant Barrier Insulation:
As one of the most effective, and definitely most cost efficient materials on the market, reflective insulation is extremely popular in homes and most other buildings across Australia. Reflective insulation is usually made from materials similar to aluminium foil, creating a mirror that reflects radiant heat away from a home as it begins to penetrate. You can install this insulation in all parts of a home.
- Bulk Insulation:
Bulk insulation is a highly popular form of insulation. It has been around for decades and is the most widely used form of insulation in Australia. The way bulk insulation works is by trapping air inside it, intercepting heat before it can enter your home. Bulk insulation is predominantly made from natural wool, glass wool, cellulose fibre, polyester, and recycled paper.
- Spray Foam Insulation:
Spray foam insulation is a highly effective and convenient way to insulate your home. As the name suggests, spray foam insulation is a foam that is sprayed under the floor, behind the walls or ceiling, and expands into a thick and substantial protective layer of insulation. Thanks to recent developments in insulation technology, spray foam insulation retains an extremely high R rating (higher than bulk insulation) and will hold its shape long after bulk insulation has started to sag. The downsides of spray insulation include the fact that it’s flammable and costly, compared to other forms of insulation.
When it comes to retrofitting, the materials you select will be based on a few different factors, including budget, preference, and most importantly – which material will do the best job. If you can get reflective insulation retrofitted into your property, we highly recommend it. When it comes to doing the inside of walls though, it can be difficult to get the reflective sheets in there, and another method may suit better. For example, existing brick veneer walls may require a special high performance blowing machine that fills the cavity through a small access point—and when it comes to inaccessible cavities, a small hole can be drilled through the mortar joint, and a special cone can pump the insulation through.
Even if you live in an existing home that is not fitted with insulation, it might be worth considering going down the path of a retrofit. Have your home assessed and weigh up the pros and cons, considering whether there will be any substantial interruption to your living conditions or not. In the long run, you will make back the money you spend on insulation, in savings on your gas and electricity bills. If you are still unsure of what you need, contact us today on 1800 354 717.
Are you planning to retrofit your home with insulation? Let us know by leaving a comment below.