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We all know about energy star ratings, it’s on our fridges and washing machines, and it also applies to our homes. More stars equal better value – or does it?
Currently, houses must be built to a 6-star rating, with the energy rating completed by qualified energy raters who asses the house size, orientation, the number of north-facing windows, and quality of windows. And they determine what R-value insulation we need.
What is an R-value?
Put simply, the R-value is the unit of measurement that tells you how efficient an insulation system is. The higher the R-value, the more effective the insulation is.
The R-value is determined by measuring the heat flow and resistance to heat flow between two plates, one hot and one cold – the testing material is between these two plates. CSIRO has a specialized laboratory and equipment to conduct such measurements, giving a rating to tested material.
Now, the problem is that our homes lose heat in three ways: conduction, convection and radiation. An R-value rating determined by CSIRO only measures conduction, while ignoring convection and radiation.
The issue with all fibrous insulation materials commonly used in Australia today, such as rock wool, glass wool, and blow-in cellulose, is their value (which is stated on the product packaging) completely ignores airflow travelling through this material (convection). Convection or airflow significantly contributes to heat losses and our energy bill in the winter months.
What’s the solution?
This is where the insulation material spray foam (SPF) or polyurethane foam comes in. When sprayed, it expands and perfectly seals all surfaces and gaps. By filling every crack and crevice, spray foam stops air leakage and deters the growth of mould and mildew.
Spray foam is categorised into two main types: open-cell spray foam and closed-cell spray foam. The latter, which is composed of cells that are completely closed, has an extremely high density, making it better at keeping the heat in and out of structures. That’s why it’s more commonly used in exterior applications, while open-cell spray foam is best suited to interior applications like wall cavities, crawl spaces and attics.
We have noticed that homes with spray foam insulation perform much better than the average, according to the stated R-value as measured by today’s standard testing methods.
Although spray foam is more expensive than fibrous insulation, it can lead to bigger savings on your heating and cooling costs down the line. For example, by preventing heat from leaving your home, your heating system won’t have to work as hard to keep your space at a comfortable temperature.
So, to have a home that truly performs well, you need to think beyond today’s commonly accepted methods – even by the otherwise remarkable research organisations such as CSIRO.
Invest in efficient insulation
The winter months are a chilly, albeit timely reminder of how important insulation is. For your next project, get in touch with our experts about what essential information you should know to keep your home performing at the very best level.
Toto Properties has partnered with one of only two spray foam insulation providers in Melbourne. Contact us today to learn about how we can include it in your dream home.