Home and dry

In­su­la­tion and glaz­ing go a long way to mak­ing your home more com­fort­able and, more im­por­tantly, health­ier for your fam­ily.

Element - - Home - By Jo­hann Bern­hardt

WWe all know the re­sale-based mantra in the hous­ing mar­ket which is lo­ca­tion, lo­ca­tion, lo­ca­tion. When look­ing at homes it is now time to add to this the liv­ing com­fort-based mantra of in­su­la­tion, in­su­la­tion, in­su­la­tion. This is be­cause well-in­su­lated homes of­fer a wide range of ben­e­fits which eas­ily out­weigh the cost in­volved. • In sum­mer the in­su­la­tion in­creases com­fort by keep­ing the house

cooler. • In win­ter, heat­ing will be re­tained for much longer in well-in­su­lated homes lead­ing to less heat­ing en­ergy re­quired and to con­sid­er­able on­go­ing sav­ings. • Warmer and drier houses will have less con­den­sa­tion, they are less prone to mould and mildew growth. • They will be health­ier and more com­fort­able to live in, re­duc­ing the un­usu­ally high rate of asthma and res­pi­ra­tory prob­lems in NZ. • Homes with a con­sis­tently higher me­dian tem­per­a­ture will be cheaper to main­tain be­cause there is less dam­age caused by damp­ness and con­den­sa­tion. A large part of our old hous­ing stock is unin­su­lated, cold and damp – those built be­fore 1979, when in­su­lat­ing new homes be­came com­pul­sory. In or­der to help home own­ers with retrofitting in­su­la­tion the gov­ern­ment through EECA ( www.en­er­gy­wise.govt.nz) and lo­cal coun­cils like Auck­land City (ph 301 0101 or email: retro­fit@auck­land­coun­cil.govt.nz) are pro­vid­ing fi­nan­cial as­sis­tance.

Some of the ap­proved retro­fit items in­clude ceil­ing and un­der­floor in­su­la­tion, ground poly­thene vapour bar­rier, and hot water cylin­der and pipe wraps.

While installing these will im­prove the per­for­mance of the home there is more we can do in or­der to com­plete the job. Ceil­ing and un­der­floor in­su­la­tion are be­ing fo­cused on so far be­cause these ar­eas are eas­ily ac­ces­si­ble. But it is of course the whole build­ing en­ve­lope that de­ter­mines heat loss and dis­com­fort in the home, and that in­cludes ex­te­rior walls and win­dows. They have a sig­nif­i­cant in­flu­ence on the ther­mal per­for­mance of the home.

Retrofitting in­su­la­tion into ex­ist­ing walls can be easy when done in the course of ren­o­va­tions where the wall linings are be­ing re­moved. The other, more del­i­cate, op­tion is to drill holes through the ex­te­rior cladding and to blow in­su­lat­ing ma­te­rial into the wall cav­i­ties. The choices for these ma­te­ri­als should be con­sid­ered care­fully as their per­for­mance varies due to a cer­tain amount of shrink­age that can be ex­pected. It has to be said that un­til tech­ni­cal so­lu­tions for this and some other prob­lems have been de­vel­oped, retrofitting wall in­su­la­tion has to be treated with cau­tion and re­quires build­ing con­sent. The op­tions are • Cel­lu­lose in­su­la­tion, which con­sists of old news­pa­pers treated with bo­rate salt to al­low re­sis­tance against ro­dents, bac­te­ria, fungi and fire. It be­gins to set­tle the mo­ment it is in­stalled by 10% or more and will de­pend on the den­sity it is in­stalled at. • Loose-fill rock­wool (min­eral fi­bre) in­su­la­tion gen­er­ally set­tles less than cel­lu­lose but again the amount will de­pend on the in­stalled den­sity.

While new houses will all be in­su­lated as a con­se­quence of to­day’s Build­ing Code re­quire­ment, their ther­mal per­for­mance can be greatly im­proved by in­creas­ing the pre­vail­ing choice of 90 mm wall studs to 140 mm ones. This al­lows for an ex­tra layer of in­su­la­tion.

Gen­er­ally it is im­por­tant to re­mem­ber that for in­su­la­tion to work ef­fec­tively it must be in­stalled cor­rectly. There should be no slump­ing and no gaps as this can lead to con­sid­er­able heat loss. For more in­for­ma­tion on these top­ics Auck­land Coun­cil pro­vides free and in­de­pen­dent eco de­sign ad­vice. Phone 0508 326-337. To as­sess the per­for­mance and health of your home check out homes­tar.org.nz

Retrofitting in­su­la­tion into ex­ist­ing walls can be easy when done in the course of ren­o­va­tions where the wall linings are be­ing re­moved.

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