The world is witnessing a shift in weather patterns. Countries where cold weather was largely dominating, they are experiencing the hottest summers and vice versa. Due to sudden changes in weather, there is an exceptional rise in the cost of cooling and heating the rooms. According to a survey, people spend 50% of total energy usage in cooling and heating systems.
This is where insulation comes into the scene through you can provide resistance to heat flow and keep the temperature of the rooms stable. Due to temperature stability, the cost of heating and cooling goes down significantly. We will discuss the types of insulation materials available so that you can choose the perfect one for you.
What is Insulation?
Insulation is a process of resisting heat transfer from one space to another. The resistance to the flow of heat is done either through absorption of heat or reflection of heat. Proper insulation is a necessity for every living space for comfort level as well as energy efficiency so that the heating or cooling devices do not have to overwork.
There are various types of insulation possible, but here we are referring to thermal insulation. The objective of thermal insulation is to reduce as well as slow down the heat flow. The resistance is achieved by providing a barrier between the spaces where the heat could flow due to temperature differences.
How Does Insulation Work?
There is always a flow of heat where there is a difference in temperature. This means heat flows from hot areas to cold areas. During summers, heat from outside flows inside the home, which has a relatively low temperature. During winters, heat from inside of the home flows outside as outside has a relatively low temperature. Therefore, the air conditioner or room heater must overwork to keep the desired temperature.
Thermal insulation through an insulation material is a barrier between the heat flow from outdoors to indoors or vice versa. An insulation material absorbs the heat flowing and does not let the indoors get the heat from the outdoors or let the heat escape from the indoors to the outdoors.
Therefore, insulation helps to keep the indoors cool in summer and warm in winter. Hence, air conditioners or room heaters do not have to overwork due to stability in temperature, and the energy efficiency and comfort level get enhanced. Subsequently, you will get low electricity bills due to lesser use of heating or cooling system.
What Are The Different Types of Insulation Material?
There are mainly two types of insulation material – organic and inorganic. Organic insulation materials are light in weight, highly compact, and great in insulation. But they are not resistant to aging, deformation, combustion, and instability. Besides, the construction of organic insulation materials is high due to more processing requirements.
On the contrary, inorganic insulation materials overcome all the shortcomings of organic insulation materials. This means they are resistant to combustion, extreme weather conditions, deformation, and aging as well. At the same time, the insulation properties are quite decent, and most importantly, they are priced lower than most organic insulation materials.
Here are the different types of materials used in insulation.
The most commonly used material for insulation is fiberglass. The material is resistant to fire and moisture. It is one of the most affordable materials because it is widely available. The aesthetic property of the material adds to its wide popularity. The thermal resistance of the material stands at around 2.5 per inch thickness, which is not very good but decent. It is used as blanket, rigid board, as well as loose-fill insulation form.
2. Mineral Wool
Mineral wool is available as rock wool and slag wool for insulation. It belongs to inorganic insulation material, and therefore, it is resistant to fire as against natural wool. It is available as blanket and loose-fill insulation form. The material is 75% recyclable, and the thermal resistance stands at around3.1 per inch thickness, which is better than fiberglass.
Cellulose comes from recycled paper where the shredded paper is fiberized. The material is resistant to fire as well as insects. The manufacturing of cellulose is easy, and hence, it is an affordable insulation material. It is available in loose-fill form and gets packed into building cavities. The thermal resistance is better than mineral wool, and it stands at around 3.5 per inch thickness.
4. Natural Fibers
Natural fibers belong to the organic insulation materials category. Among natural fibers, sheep’s wool, cotton, hemp, and straw are used for insulation. Cotton has 15% plastic fiber to make it resistant to flame and insects. It is available in batts form. Similarly, sheep’s wool, straw, and hemp are processed and treated to make them suitable for insulation. The thermal resistance of natural fibers is better than cellulose and mineral wool.
Denim is steadily becoming a popular choice for insulation materials. It is made by recycled denim jeans. It offers the same thermal resistance as fiberglass. Denim is treated to be flame-retardant. Denim is readily available and processed, and it is environmental-friendly. The material provides sound insulation as well, and it is mold-resistant. However, it is more expensive than fiberglass.
Polystyrene is made up of thermoplastic. They come in the form of rigid boards, and the thermal resistance of the material stands at around 3.7 per inch thickness. Compared to fiberglass, it is easier to install. Polystyrene is light in weight and resistant to water. However, the cost of polystyrene is higher than fiberglass.
Polyisocyanurate is another thermoplastic that has low heat thermal conductivity, and hence, it works well as a thermal insulator. It is also available in rigid foam boards. The cost of the material is cheaper, and the initial thermal resistance is decent. However, there can be a gradual drop in thermal resistance, and hence, it is processed with foil and plastic covering for longer durability.
Polyurethane comes in closed-cell as well as open-cell form. The thermal resistance is better for closed-cell form. It can also suffer from thermal drifting, which means gradually losing its thermal resistance. However, foil and plastic covering offer consistent performance in the long run. You can use it as an insulation material in liquid foam and rigid form board form.
Perlite was one of the most commonly used insulation materials a few decades ago. There are small pellets used in the construction of perlite. It is a loose-fill type material that can be mixed with cement in the construction of buildings so that the walls act as a thermal barrier.
10. Cementitious Foam
As the name suggests, it is a combination of cement and foam. You need to spray out or pump cementitious foam into cavities for insulation purposes. The cost of cementitious foam is at par with polyurethane, which is resistant to fire. Certain minerals are used in processing cementitious foam, such as magnesium silicate, for better thermal resistance.
11. Phenolic Foam
Phenolic foam is another popular insulation material from the past. It is available in rigid board and foam form. The application is limited as it shrinks with time. The material is resistant to fire for certain hours and moisture resistant. The structure strength is decent, and it is quite environmental-friendly.
12. Gypsum Plaster
Gypsum plaster is an effective choice in thermal insulation. It comes in plasterboard form, and it is quite light in weight. It is highly resistant to fire and moisture. You can choose from different thicknesses to get better insulation. Different materials, such as polystyrene and polyurethane foam, can be mixed with gypsum for better insulation properties.
Types of Insulation FAQs –
Ans: There are basically two types of insulation materials – organic and inorganic. In terms of materials and their forms, there are different types of thermal insulation available. They are fiberglass insulation, cellulose insulation, spray foam, radiant barrier, loose-fill, and rigid foam board insulation.
Ans: The most important factor to watch while choosing an insulation material is the thermal resistance or R-value of the insulation material. The higher the R-value, the better the insulation will be. Apart from that, the resistance to fire, moisture, insects, and aging needs to be looked at. Besides, the form of the material, along with the density and cost, must be considered.
Ans: The organic insulation materials are mostly environmental-friendly. For example, denim, cellulose, and sheep’s wool are all environmentally friendly and obtained naturally. Apart from these, icynene, polystyrene, aerogel, phenolic foam, and mineral wool are all suitable from the environmental impact perspective.
Ans: Fiberglass insulation is the best insulation material. The material is available in different forms, and you can choose as per your requirements. The cost of fiberglass insulation is quite affordable, and the thermal resistance is quite decent. The material is also resistant to weather conditions and fire and flame. But in terms of thermal resistance, polyurethane has the highest value though it is flammable.
If you want to slow down the flow of heat in your indoors, you have to use thermal insulation material. There are so many different types of insulation materials available, and each one of them has different properties and suitability. We have listed all the different types of insulation materials, and you can go through them and pick the best insulation material for your indoors to enhance energy efficiency and keep your room temperature comfortable.