Different Insulation Types

Learn about the different insulation types available for kiwi homes

Different Insulation Types

We’ve mentioned before how insulation helps to reduce energy costs and keeps your home more comfortable. However, insulation comes in many different types, shapes and sizes. It can be tempting to think that putting in some insulation will be a magic bullet, but it’s actually more complicated than that. In this article we take a look at some of the main insulation types available in New Zealand.

What insulation types are available?

1. Batting & Segment insulation types (Fibreglass, Wool, Polyester):

Batting comes in sheets and rolls to be cut and placed into wall and roof cavities and under floors. It’s difficult to install in walls, except during construction. It can also release inhalant microfibres that cause respiratory issues. It compresses fairly easily which can reduce its effectiveness over time. While it can be installed DIY, we always recommend having a professional install insulation products. Poor installation reduce product effectiveness and cause other issues in your home.

2. Loose-fill (fibreglass and cellulose): 

Loose-fill is blown into cavities to create a layer that settles. It’s lightweight, so great for unreinforced ceilings and walls, adding insulation but not too much weight. It’s easier to install in tight spaces, especially cavity walls which are notoriously under-insulated. For example, CosyWall insulation is water repellent and made from glasswool making it extremely useful in our New Zealand climate.

3. Structural insulated panels (polystyrene and polyisocyanurate):

Best installed during building, as the panels cannot be squeezed into tight spaces. Offers great insulation, but can work too well, encouraging damp. Panels emit toxic smoke when burned. Polyisocyanurate is a foil-type insulation, which works extremely well, but because it’s a foil barrier, it tends to encourage damp by not allowing any movement of air or moisture at all.

4. Polyurethane spray foam (open-cell and closed-cell):

Sprayed into cavities (requiring minimal access) and expands to fit all available space. Great for cavity walls and tight spaces, and can be installed in new builds or already finished houses. Open-cell stops the movement of air and closed-cell stops the movement of both air and moisture.

While all insulation types have value, we don’t recommend spray foam insulation. This type of insulation is known to contain formaldehyde which can be harmful. Additionally, poor installation of spray foam insulation can lead to future home issues.

Where should insulation be installed?

Ideally your walls, ceilings and floors should all be fully insulated. Fully insulating your home helps to seal its thermal envelope which you can learn more about from our recent article.

Insulation creates a thermal barrier between a hot and cold object that reduces or slows heat transfer by either reflecting thermal radiation or decreasing thermal conduction and convection. The insulation types and materials used in the barrier will determine its effectiveness at slowing or reducing heat transfer. Barriers that conduct heat poorly are good thermal insulators whereas materials that conduct heat well will have low insulating capabilities. This is how thermal insulation works.

So if you want to keep your indoor temperature stable, you need to have a well-insulated home. Warm air can escape through all of your home’s barriers. It’s important to complete the thermal envelope by insulating your ceiling, floor and walls.

For more information contact the team at Absolute Energy today.