Most homes in South Africa are built with the aim to invest as little capital as possible. The problem with this mindset is that design aspects such as insulation are often neglected. Building in this way does not necessarily mean that the home will remain sustainable from a cost perspective in the long run. With electricity costs on the rise, this attitude towards home building needs to change.
Insulation is one of the most effective ways to improve the energy efficiency of a home, and its operating costs based on electricity usage. As explained above, it is commonly omitted in building plans. In this blog we will explore the options available to insulate the home and the elements to consider when choosing the best insulation for your home.
Why Insulation Is Needed?
The diagram below illustrates what happens to a typical South African home in warm, summer months and cool, winter months.
The goal of insulation is to reduce heat transfer, which occurs when two different temperature zones are next to each other. During winter, when the temperature outside is lower than the desired temperature inside your home, heat transfer takes place from inside the building to the outside. The result is that the inside of the house loses warmth. In summer, the opposite happens.
Similarly, the temperature difference between the water in a geyser and the water in the pipes causes energy flow towards the outside in the form of heat loss. Insulation helps to minimise the heat transfer rate and keeps temperatures constant.
What to Bear in Mind When Insulating Your Home?
There are a number of factors to consider when insulating the home including climate, building orientation, budget, and the type of insulation that would suit your home best.
The building design and materials used should be suited to the climate in which you are situated.In extreme hot or cold climates, where external temperatures are very different to desired internal temperatures, more insulation will be required to help keep temperatures inside the house constant and ease the burden on heating, ventilation and cooling systems (HVAC).
2. Building/ Area Orientation
If you haven’t starting building yet, it is important to select a property with an orientation that accommodates your climatic and regional conditions as it will lessen the requirements for home insulation. Poor orientation excludes winter sun, and causes overheating in summer. Good orientation means you have a high level of unobstructed winter sunshine and north-facing daytime living and working areas.
3. Budget and Preference
The obvious consideration when deciding among different home insulation options is your budget constraints. There are a range of options available and depending on the extent you are willing to go, you will find something that works for you.
4. Types of Insulation
Now that you have an overview of how insulation works and why it is important, let’s explore the options available for insulating the home.
• Roof and ceiling insulation
Roof and ceiling insulation is by far the most effective way of insulating a home or building. There are three major types of roof insulation: bulk insulation, reflective foil insulation and composite bulk insulation.
• Geyser blankets
Hot water electricity use comprises around 40% of a typical household’s total consumption. It is important to reduce heat losses in this area. The water temperature of your geyser drops by 1 degree C per hour, so constant energy is needed to maintain the temperature. Available from our online store, geyser blanket and duvets
allow your geyser to retain heat, and may cut its energy usage in half. Geyser blankets and duvets are a good option for individuals seeking a small investment with a significant impact. Refer to our post on geyser efficiency
for more information on how you can manage your geyser’s electricity consumption.
• Hot water pipe insulation/cladding
Of the heat loss that occurs in your piping from the geyser, 50% of the loss occurs within the first four metres. This means that a considerable saving can be made on your electricity bill just by insulating the pipes around the geyser.
Sustainable.co.za’s online store offers excellent piping insulation made from Armaflex. This material is particularly effective at preventing moisture ingress and ensures long term thermal efficiency. The thermal properties of Armaflex will not rapidly deteriorate over time as other insulation materials might. And, by keeping moisture as far from the pipe surface as possible, Armaflex reduces the risk of expensive under insulation deterioration.
Draught proofing is the process of closing the gaps and cracks through which cold breezes may creep. These areas can include windows, doors, floor boards, wall plugs and wall cracks, to name a few. It may be difficult to identify weak spots in your home, but fixing them up is relatively easy - here are steps that serve as a guide
• Blinds, curtains and shade awnings
In hot conditions, the greatest source of heat energy is solar radiation. This enters buildings directly through windows. Windows are also a source of heat transfer from the inside of the building to the outside. Window blinds and curtains improve insulation by acting as a barrier across glass windows and preventing heat from leaving and entering the home.
For more information about energy efficiency feel free to contact
us, or follow our blog for additional tips on saving energy.