The Why and How of Insulating your home ?
Why Insulate your Home?
Insulation in Queensland is very important and regardless of the age of your house it should have its roof insulated. Whether you have a brand new home or an old home that you just moved into, you will want to make sure that it has adequate installation. If your home is much hotter inside, then outside in the early afternoon or night in summer time, you would benefit from proper roof insulation. Is your home like an ice box in winter and the heaters just do not seem to heat the home, then you need insulation!
A quick and easy test to see if your home is insulated properly now or, if you will benefit from more insulation (this test works best in summer), is to stand on a chair and place your hand on the ceiling and compare the temperature of the ceiling with the bottom of an internal wall at different times of the day. This will give a very good idea of if the heat is coming from the ceiling or though an external wall.
A good bulk insulation like Cellulose Fibre or Polyester Batts will give you a great result if it is installed properly. Like any product though, it does not matter how good it is if it is not installed correctly. For the best results your insulation should be installed to the ceiling and without any gaps. Having gaps in your insulation will dramatically reduce its ability to perform, just like leaving the fridge door ajar ever so slightly, it will stop your fridge from retaining the cool air and will allow hot air to get in and spoil your food, leaving just 1% gaps in your insulation can reduce performance by 30% according to Choice Magazine.
There is a few things you might not know about the benefits of insulating your home and why you should make sure your roof is insulated?
1. To cool your home in Summer
2. To warm your home in Winter
3. To stop outside traffic noise
4. Reduce plane noise in your home from being in a flight path
5. Internal or external wall and floor insulation to reduce noises travelling though the house.
6. Reduce electricity bills for heating and cooling your home by as much as 40%
7. Insulation can make air conditioners 40% more efficient and so increase the area they cool or heat. Maybe you do not need a bigger air-con, maybe you just need insulation.
8. Helps stop mould forming on internal walls and ceilings - Only Cellulose insulation can do this effectively
9. Some insulation like Cellulose fibre can help stop rats nesting in your roof but Batts will almost certainly promote them living in your roof.
Choice Magazine has said that the single greatest thing you can do to make your home more energy efficient is to insulate your ceiling to the correct rating. The correct rating for Brisbane and coastal QLD is R2.5 on ceiling with a total System value of R4.2 This is where many customers are miss-lead into buying for more than they need because most companies don't explain that the NCC (National Construction Code) requirements for R4.2 is reduced by the R value of your Roof material, Roof Colour, Roof ventilation, Ceiling type, Cavity ventilation and the amount of air in your roof space. These all make a difference to how much insulation you need on the ceiling and that is why the actual NCC recommendation for ceilings is a minimum of R2.5. Comfort zone recommends R3.0 which is 20% more than the standard and with cellulose fibre insulation will stop 100% of the heat transfer though the ceiling.
Benefits of insulation in summer time
As you can see insulation can have many benefits to the liveability of your house, a lot of my customers have told me, that some of the greatest benefits of insulating their home is actually late in the day or early in the evening. When the day cools off, your home will cool off much more rapidly with insulation, as it stops all the stored heat in your roof cavity from continuing to heat into your home.
If you are having trouble sleeping and it is a lot cooler outside your home on a summer night, even with windows and doors open, then you will benefit from having your roof insulated with a quality insulation. How much difference it makes will depend on how hot it gets to start with, the hotter it is now the more heat we can stop and so the greater the difference you will notice. I have had many customers over the years that have had more than a 10 degree difference to their before and after temperatures, just by insulating their roof.
In fact a particularly well insulated home can be cooler inside than outside by 10 degrees on a very hot day if you manage your home properly. Not all homes have this result but insulation should be the first step in cooling your home down.
Benefits of insulation in winter time
If your home is a bit cool in winter and it seems that, no matter how long you run your heater it just does not warm up, then you need ceiling insulation. Without insulation, your heater is just wasting electricity because hot air rises and there is nothing stopping that heat escaping into your roof space where it will easily be vented or lost. In fact, that is one of the reasons that I do not recommend Whirly Birds as they will work against you in winter.
A quality insulation installed in your ceiling will stop 100% of the heat transfer and make your home warm and comfortable this winter.
Basically 3 Types of Insulation for houses
There is a few products to choose from but the thing to remember is that the installation team and how well the company trains that team, is often more important than the product that you decide to insulate your home with. I will explain why this is so important later but for now lets talk about the different products that you can insulate your home with.
Basically there is 3 different types of insulation:
1. Fibre Glass batts (also known as itchy wool by most builders and installers)
2. PolyesterBatts(These are the King of batts, made locally, NOT ITCHY AT ALL)
3. Cellulose fibre Pump in insulation (The only one I would use in my own home, also locally made)
All insulations have to be made to meet the Australian standards for Fire and Vermin resistance, and they are all tested for there thermal resistance properties (R Value). Therefore if you have R3.0 in one insulation and R3.0 in another one (R3.0 is 20% more than the building code requires and all I recommend), what is the difference between the different batts on the market or the pump in insulation in terms of the results you will get?
All the insulation products have pro's and con's and most people think that they are trying to find the best insulation to stop the most summer heat or keep their home the warmest in winter. The fact is, whatever product you choose and assuming that it is installed well, then the only difference should be the other benefits or Fire prevention, Sound Attenuation and Vermin resistance.
Watch my videos below and you will learn a lot about the Pro's and Con's of insulation batts.
Fibre Glass Batts - Earthwool - Gold or Pink
Fibre Glass Batts are the cheapest product on the market, they come in lots of colours and lots of brand names. A builder will recommend them, 8 times out of 10 but that is just because it is cheapest product and normally the only product they have ever used. If installed well and at the right R-Value, it will do the job but it does have some down sides and you definitely do not want to be the one installing them.
My concern is any product that irritates the skin just to touch, does not seem like it could be any good for the health of my workers. I make sure my staff use asbestos rated masks and disposable suits any time we are asked to install it, we still end up itchy for about 3 days though.
Sales people try to get away from the association with it being fibre glass and so they will often use the brand names for the product and mis-represent how itchy it is. I have often had reps for the big companies tell my customer that their product is not made from fibre glass, even though it is. So be Careful. Earthwool has no wool in it and wood be more accurately described as Fibreglass wool, it is the better of the glass products in my opinion even though I would never put it in my home.
The only Fibre Glass Batts I will sell is the Earth Wool Batts or Rhino batts, as they are recycled and are not bleached to any particular colour like pink, yellow, blue or green. I think this has got to be better for the environment than the coloured batts, and over the years I have found them to be less itchy than the other products on the market. If you must have the cheapest product on the market then this will be as cheap as any and my teams will be happy to install it for you, so you do not even have to get itchy.
5% gaps in insulation batts reduces the efficiency by as much as 70%
When batts need to be cut into all the different size bays in your roof and squeezed into all the tight corners, the truth is that most batt installers will take short cuts, especially in tight hot roofs. Cellulose is easier to install, just run the hose into the roof and point the insulation towards the edge, no need to crawl all the way out there. It will easily pump up to two meters past the end of the hose, it is also the best option on raked and exposed beam roofs where it gets great results without the need to lift the whole roof.
Earth Wool Batts Installed by Comfort Zone Insulation
Environmental impact, Just look at the land fill caused by the waste plastic on Packs of Batts
Polyester Insulation Batts (King of Batts) But they still get rats in them...
Polyester Batt Insulation is the King of batts in my
opinion, they can be slightly harder to install if you are doing them yourself as you will need a lesson in how to cut them (hint: they only tear across the batt in one direction) At least you will not be itchy with these batts as they are the same fibre that is in your doona blanket and pillows, so I think that they are very safe for your health. I normally rub them in my face just to prove how non itchy and safe they are.
I buy my polyester batts from a local Queensland manufacturer, as I have tried some of the imported cheaper batts but, I have never been happy with the consistency of the product. That way I know that all my batts are going to come out of the pack at the R-Value they are meant to be. Being a local company helps when I need floor batts too because they make the batts stiffer as a special order just for Comfort Zone Insulation. This makes using batts on floors much easier. (Don’t even try to fix Fibre Glass batts under the floor.)
If you must have batts installed in your floor, walls or ceiling then these Polyester Batts are going to do the job and last the longest of all the batts. I have never seen a Polyester Batt settle over time but I have removed plenty of Fibre Glass Batts that settled and broke down as they aged.
Polyester Batts installed.
This is what a polyester batt job is supposed to look like with no gaps, the batts all the way to the edge and under power leads where possible. Notice that this house has anticon blanket already but it did not work and that is why the customer wanted on ceiling insulation. Insulation under the roof line is just not effective and the only people selling it are builders because it is cheap and they can tick a box to stay it has insulation. They just don’t care if it works.
Made by a local company who we have worked with for more than 20 years and they make a great batt for insulating under timber floors. They make it to our specification and it is the only batt that is specifically designed to be easily installed under timber floors.
We do not recommend any batts for the ceiling as they do get rats and mice in them.
However if you just must have batts, these are locally made and non itchy. They are the only batts I would use if I did not have the option to use Cellulose fibre Pump in insulation.
Watch the Video of Comfort Zone Installing Polyester Batts in a House
Cellulose Fibre Pump in Insulation (The only one I would use in my own home!)
Cellulose Fibre Insulation is by far the best insulation product to use, if you are most concerned about the thermal and acoustic results you are going to get the best results from pump in Cellulose insulation. The fire and vermin resistance of cellulose fibre is far better than any other product and, it is the only insulation that can assist to save your home in the case of a fire. In fact I have personally insulated more than 6000 houses with Cellulose Fibre Insulation over the last 30 years (and it is the only product that I would use to insulate my own home).
In all those jobs I have never had a product fault from properly installed Cellulose Fibre. I have never seen it settle, blow around, get mice nesting in it or start a fire but I can not say that for the other products on the market.
Proof Cellulose insulation does not blow around
This house was actually getting the roof replaced at the time and as you can see even with half the roof off the cellulose does not blow around. Also this is a older house and as batts only come in 580mm wide or 430mm wide they would all need to be cut to size and if they are not they will leave gaps that ruin the job.
Benefits of cellulose insulation versus any batts
My customers and staff love Cellulose Fibre insulation for many reasons, it really is the best insulation on the market no mater how you look at it. My installers love it because It only needs one worker to be in the roof at a time, so my installation team can take it in turns and not get as fatigued from the heat in summer. It is not itchy and the pumping time is normally less than the time it takes to install batts.
Cellulose insulation is made from 100% recycled paper and uses about 1/20th of the energy to make as other insulations, making it the most environmentally friendly option. The recycled paper is treated with Borax and Boric acid, (both chemicals are naturally occurring and non toxic to humans but also inert and a natural insect killer) to give it such excellent fire and vermin properties.
Cellulose pump in insulation is the only insulation that will naturally kill, any insects living in your roof. There is about 20% borax in cellulose by weight and our Cellulose Insulation is Guaranteed for Life (Life of your house) not to ever loose its fire or vermin retardant properties. This means Cellulose is the only residential insulation product on the market that will resist a house fire and kill any creepy crawlies in your roof like Red back spiders, ants, cockroaches or silver fish, forever! You will see a copy of our fantastic Guarantees when we send out your quote.
Don't bother getting your roof pest controlled again and unlike batts I have never seen mice build nests in the Cellulose, because it is loose and if they walk on it they start sinking and climb right back out. By contrast almost every batt removal job that I have done, will have at least a few mice nests in it because batts are great for mice to push up and build nice little insulated homes.
Another great thing about Borax is that it is a natural disinfectant, and so you can be assured that your roof will never be cleaner and smell nicer than after we install Cellulose Fibre for you. It can be a little messy for my installers putting at times and they will come out of your roof looking like father Christmas but that is only while we are putting it in. More than 50% of Electricians working in roofs regularly would prefer to be a bit dirty and clean up with water rather than be uncontrollably itchy for days from Fibre Glass Batts. By the way mess is the only criticism of the product that I have after 20 years of working with it. On the odd occasion that cellulose makes a mess it can be easily cleaned up and you don't have to worry about getting itchy.
When I say it resists a flame, I can melt a copper washer on my hand with just 40mm of Cellulose Fibre between my hand and 1,100 degree celsius oxy torch flame (see the photo on my broacher). I'm happy to show you this in person when we come to install it for you.
Cellulose Fibre is the only insulation shown to help save lives and property in the event of a house fire
WOW! That demonstration still impresses me even after 20 years of doing it! I have actually seen roofs that were saved from catching fire because of a chimney, that came loose and fell over in the roof but the Cellulose prevented the timber beams the chimney was sitting on from catching fire. Batts will not do that!
You Must watch this video before you decide to by insulation batts
The video above was not made by Comfort Zone Insulation but, it is a great demonstration of how much of a difference it might make to have a great product like this in your home if you ever do have a house fire. This is a well produced video that was made with the help of Fire Brigade services in America and shows that they recommend Cellulose Fibre insulation in to help save lives in a house fire.
What about the Manhole ?
This is what cellulose fibre looks like in your roof and how we put Polyester batts over the manhole cover for ease of access.
The problem is that you will probably only insulate your house once and so very few people can make a accurate assessment of how much better one product is over another in the same house.
The choice is yours and I am happy to quote and install any of the above 3 products for you, but for a little extra cost the Cellulose will give you a much better performing insulation. It really is the only insulation I recommend that you use, if you can afford a bit extra cost now, you will get a far better result over the life of your house.
The problem with insulation is that customers have got no way to compare different products in their own roof before they buy them, so I understand how confusing it can be. If you put in a product that only works 1/2 as good as the cellulose fibre works, you will probably never know because it is not often that people decide to get another product put in when batts do not work as well as they had hoped. What I can tell you is that I pump over and remove batts all the time because they are not working, settled, infested with mice or causing allergies, normally when a house changes owner. I have never removed Cellulose Fibre for any of these reasons. The only time I have removed Cellulose insulation is when the customer was replacing the ceilings for some reason.