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Insulating your home

April 29, 2020

By reducing reliance on artificial cooling and heating the home owner can reduce both their energy bills and greenhouse gas emissions (GGE).

Insulation works most effectively when combined with good passive design. For example, insulation in a house that is poorly shaded during the summer season can actually trap heat inside, creating an oven effect. 

Choosing insulation

There are two main types of insulation, reflective and bulk. 

Reflective:

Reflective insulation mainly resists radiant heat due to its high reflectivity. The main types of reflective insulation include:

  • Single sided poly weave foils
  • Double sided antiglare foils
  • Bubble foil 

Bulk insulation:

Bulk insulation resists the transfer of conducted and convected heat. It relies on pockets of trapped air within its own structure.

Bulk insulation is typically constructed of glass fibre, wool, polystyrene or polyester.

Reflective and bulk can sometimes be combined into a composite material on occasions.

Composite insulation types include:

  • Foil faced blanket
  • Antiglare reflective
  • EPS board 

What insulation tasks can be done DIY and what's best left to professionals?

The most efficient time to install insulation is during construction or major renovation. However, if this is not possible some areas of the home can still be retrofitted, for example, ceiling spaces and suspended floors.

During construction the builder for the project will organise for the insulation to be installed, if the project is an owner builder project then they are best placed to include within the scope of works/contract the installation by the relevant trade contractors engaged as part of their work to sheet the roof or wall cladding and the people undertaking the framing or the internal lining of the walls and ceilings to include the insulation installation. This will help to ensure meeting relevant work health and safety obligations and meet building code requirements and they would be more familiar with those requirements.

In terms of insulating existing homes as part of DIY, it is advisable to engage a professional as crawling around in ceiling spaces and understanding work health and safety and other requirements such as installation requirements around lights and other things is best placed left to professionals.

Tools/products needed for the job

 Different insulation products require different tools but generally cutting tools, measuring tapes, straight edges are common tools used. Appropriate PPE in terms of gloves, masks, protective eye wear and protective clothing are also critical. Product manufacturers and suppliers generally produce safety data sheets for their products which outlines safe handling, storage and recommended PPE for using and handling that particular product.

For further information on insulation HIA members can contact HIA’s Building services team on 1300 650 620 or hia_technical@hia.com.au.