June 2015


Investing in Home Insulation Saves Money

Australian homes have poor thermal insulation so there is plenty of room for improvement, says Energy Freedom, a group of leading renewable energy and energy efficiency companies and organizations.

In fact, Australian homes are among the world's worst when it comes to draughts and money wasted on inefficient heating and cooling. With uncontrolled air leakage accounting for between 15 to 25 per cent of winter heat loss, this means our homes are two to four times as draughty as those in North America or Europe.

While some say Australia doesn't experience the same extremes of temperature as many of those countries, money spent on ineffective heating and cooling should be a concern to households trying to balance their budget while making their home comfortable.

Brick veneer is Australia's most common type of residential construction yet its thermal performance is poor across most climates. With only 18 per cent of Australian dwellings having some form of wall insulation, this means many brick veneer and timber homes have an uncomfortable internal environment.

In winter, ceilings can dissipate between 25 and 35 per cent of heat through the roof cavity, while walls can lose between 10 and 20 per cent.

The benefits of insulation include: a significant reduction in the amount of artificial heating and cooling needed and thus a reduction in heating and cooling expenses, improved comfort, insulation has a long life and is low maintenance, and reduced noise.

Richard Keech, a Melbourne energy efficiency consultant and owner of a weatherboard home, carried out tests after he had insulated the roof, ceiling and standard stud-frame walls of his house.

"After the ceiling and wall insulation, I found we could relax the air conditioner/ heater set point by about 2°C in both summer and winter. The house is noticeably warmer in the bedrooms on cold winter mornings, even when no active heating has been used overnight.

"Measurements of air conditioning and heating energy used from month to month show that in winter 2013 (with walls insulated) we used 25 per cent less heating energy than the preceding year (with ceiling and floor insulated, but not walls). In 2013, overall energy use was an impressive 75 per cent less than in our baseline year of 2006," said Mr Keech.

Installation of high performance earthwool insulation.

Insulation comes in a variety of materials. Among the more environmentally friendly is high performance bulk insulation made from recycled glass bottles, naturally occurring raw materials and bonded using a bio-based technology with no added formaldehyde, phenols, acrylics, artificial colours, bleaches or dyes.

Other forms of insulation include foam injection, reflective materials, spray foam and bonded bead insulation.

Often, the best type of insulation will be dictated by the type of structure and whether it is a new construction or an existing house.

Energy Freedom was founded by Beyond Zero Emissions in partnership with foundation members Energy Matters, Cherry LED, Knauf Insulation and Apricus Australia.





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