Every building, whether it is a home or a business, should be well-insulated. Buildings with strong thermal insulation offer high performance in terms of quality of life in summer and winter, while also saving money in all seasons.

What Is Thermal Insulation?

Thermal insulation is a process that protects living spaces from high heat changes using natural or artificial materials to slow down the flow of heat. Insulation materials can be applied to many shapes and surfaces and can slow down heat transfer from walls, pipes, or equipment. Thermal insulation materials act as a barrier between the inside of a building and the temperature outside, reducing heat loss or gain.

Various protective surfaces are used to protect insulation materials from environmental damage and to extend the life of insulation. Fiberglass felt is a material tight enough to fill gaps and prevent air flows that can reduce the insulation effect of the material. It is important to use a steam barrier on the insulation and tape the joints to prevent moisture from getting in and condensing in the insulation when insulating cold pipes. Wet insulation allows a more efficient transfer of heat.

Thermal insulation is a very good investment when it is planned during the construction phase both in terms of the value of the building and the comfort of the owners in the future. When thermal insulation is made, the temperature will not change much regardless of the season, and thus the energy spent on the heating and cooling systems will be greatly reduced.

Proper insulation of the building shell is also important to help prevent the freezing of pipes in a building and the damage that ice and moisture may cause. Because of this reason, usually, plumbing pipes are not installed on the outer walls. However, in some cases, due to the building architecture, pipes may have to be laid on the outer wall. In these cases, building insulation is vital to prevent the pipes from freezing and to maintain a straight water flow.

How Does Thermal Insulation Work?

To understand how thermal insulation works, it is important to understand the concept of heat flow or heat transfer. The heat always flows from hot to cold. This flow continues until the temperature on the two surfaces is equal. Heat is transferred in three different ways: conduction, convection, and radiation. Thermal insulation reduces heat transfer.

Heat Transfer by Conduction

Transmission is the direct flow of heat between solids and occurs when one object has physical contact with another. The heat is transmitted by molecular motion. Molecules transmit their energies to adjacent molecules that are less hot, thereby the movement of molecules increases. In this way, the heat transfer is completed.

Heat Transfer by Convection

Convection is the forced or natural flow of heat in a fluid. Fluid is a substance that can be gas or liquid. Heat flow happens during the interaction of fluids with each other.

Heat Transfer by Radiation

Radiation is the use of electromagnetic waves to transmit energy through space. The heat moves at the speed of light only in the air without heating the gap between the surfaces.

How to Make Thermal Insulation

Today, there are many cost-effective thermal insulation materials on the market. Each material differs in pricing, R values, application, and environmental impact. Thermal insulation of buildings maintains a consistent indoor temperature by preventing the temperature from decreasing too much in winter and increasing too high in summer. Thermal insulation can also reduce the energy costs of the house by half.

Below is a list of the most common insulation materials used in residential and commercial applications:

  • Glass Wool

Glass wool is the most common type of insulation material used in residential, commercial, or industrial applications. Glass wool is also called fiberglass and is produced from up to 80% recycled glass material. Glass wool is made by melting glass pieces in an oven and then spinning them into the fiber. Fiberglass in glass wool insulation forms millions of small air pockets that trap the air. Glass wool insulation is more affordable than other thermal insulation products.

  • Mineral Wool

Mineral wool is a sustainable, renewable, bio-based binding product that does not contain additional formaldehyde. Oil-based chemicals are not used in mineral wool production. Mineral wool is one of the most common thermal insulation materials used in residential, commercial, and industrial applications. A variety of products are available for walls, ceilings, floors, and acoustics.

  • Polyesters

80% of the polyester used in insulation is produced from recycled plastics. Polyester fibers are connected by heat. There is no need to use binding chemicals. This gives the polyester its rigid and flexible structure. Polyester is a popular thermal insulation material for householders with asthma or severe dust allergies since it is permeable. Polyester material feels soft when touched and does not itch the skin. The application of polyester insulation can be carried out at home without the assistance of a professional.

  • Rockwool

Rockwool is made of rocks such as basalt. Rockwool is obtained by spinning and felting rocks at high temperatures after melting. The resulting felts are stretched and turned into wool and used in insulation. Connector resin is not used during this procedure. Rockwool is also highly resistant to fire danger as it is not flammable, does not transmit heat, and can withstand temperatures above 1000°C (1832°F). Usually, rockwool is approximately three times more expensive than glass wool insulation. Rockwool offers excellent R values, acoustics, and fire ratings. Rockwool can be used in both residential and commercial applications.

Benefits of Insulation

  • Energy Savings

A lot of energy is spent on heating and cooling in summer and winter in buildings that are not insulated or under-insulated. Properly designed and installed insulation systems instantly reduce energy consumption. The benefits of insulation include high cost savings, increased productivity, and reduction of environmental damage.

  • Process Heat Transfer Control

Insulation can help keep the process temperature at a predetermined value or within a range by reducing heat loss or gain. However, isolation alone cannot prevent freezing. Thermal insulation alone cannot be sufficient for high-temperature changes such as frost. For this reason, surfaces that are at risk of frost should be supported by an interior heat source. Insulation thickness should be sufficient to limit heat transfer in a dynamic system or to limit temperature change over time in a static system. Insulation creates time to take precautions, especially in the event of a sudden crisis such as the loss of a heat source or a power outage. The interior of an isolated building loses heat or heats up more slowly. The time it takes to find a solution increases as the heat exchange lasts longer.

  • Condensation Control

Condensation due to sudden temperature changes in the interior is prevented thanks to strong thermal insulation. Condensation prevention is critical for humidity control and building health.

The exterior thermal sheathing should be thick enough to keep the surface temperature out of the building as low as possible. In this way, condensation does not form in the pipes or on the insulation surface and water does not drip on the ceiling or floor. An effective steam retardant or insulation jacket system is needed to prevent moisture from entering the thermal insulation system through coatings, connections, transitions, hangers, and supports. The money spent on exterior thermal sheathing work pays off in a very short time thanks to the energy savings it generates over time.