Know the insulation materials and their characteristics
They are composed of synthetic materials, polymers derived from petroleum. Their great advantage is that they are thermally very effective insulators, with a very low cost. Combined with other materials, they also have acoustic insulation capacity.
Expanded polystyrene (EPS)
It is a very dense material, with low thermal conductivity and that does not require too much thickness to offer a good thermal resistance. That is why it is one of the most used to insulate homes: it has a high insulating capacity with a smaller amount of material used. It is in the form of a panel (plate) of different thicknesses and granules for filling gaps.
– Where you can use it: it is more suitable for use in interior partitions and roofs, both flat and inclined, provided they are waterproofed. It is attached to the partition, between battens or in the gap between two partitions. It is not suitable for floors.
Extruded polystyrene (XPS)
It has similar characteristics to expanded polystyrene, with the difference that it can get wet without problems, since it is very absorbent. This capacity to resist humidity, together with the fact that it holds weights without deformation and its low thermal conductivity, make it the most used Home Insulation Material. The XPS has a very high density, which makes its plates thin and takes up little space. You can buy it in the form of a panel with smooth, tongue-and-groove or stepped edges to facilitate its placement.
– Where you can use it: on facades, inside or outside under plaster; on decks, flat (passable or not) and inclined, both on the floor and in garden roofs; and on walls of buried cellars. It is placed similarly to the expanded one.
This material presents a better thermal performance than the previous ones and, although it is also in the form of a panel, its use as foam to project is more widespread. You have both expansive polyurethane foam, which acts as a filler while improving insulation, as in the form of rigid or semi-rigid sheets.
– Where you can use it: in the form of an iron it is suitable for insulating false ceilings and wall tiles from interior walls. As expansive foam, in air chamber and any crack, joint or fence that you need to fill.
They are rolls formed by one or several layers, of variable thickness, of polyethylene bubbles between several thin sheets of aluminum. They are ideal for climatic zones with more uniform temperatures, without harsh winters or excessively hot summers, since their insulating capacity is based on the air chamber they provide.
– Where you can use them: the ideal is to place them on wooden battens in partitions, sloping roofs, false ceilings or floating sills, stapled with a stapler. On this layer you can place another batten on which to fix, for example, fiber-gypsum panels. Thus you create a double air chamber, increasing its insulating power.
They have a good thermal and acoustic behavior, so they are very versatile when you want to improve the general insulation of a house without going into specific works. They are very manageable, they are easily placed and their cost is very moderate. You can find them with one of the faces coated with different materials to increase their resistance to moisture, such as kraft paper, or to achieve greater strength, such as aluminum, mesh or fiberglass sheet. There are also panels with a face of plaster laminate, which greatly facilitate the work when applying the final finish of the insulation.
Rock wool or mineral wool (SW)
It is usually presented in the form of blanket, non-rigid panel or roll composed of rock fibers of volcanic origin, which are obtained by heating the rock at a very high temperature and mixing it with binders. It is also in the form of bulk fibers that are applied in the form of mortar mixed with white cement.
– Where you can use it: in roofs, slabs, facades, floors, false ceilings, attics or interior partitions.
Energy rehabilitation of buildings, insulation
In recent times there is a lot of emphasis on the importance of energy rehabilitation of the housing stock of our cities, giving more weight to the renovation of existing neighborhoods in front of the construction of new areas.
It is a policy that in Europe has been practiced since the mid-twentieth century and that in Spain is beginning to be implemented now. But it is not a whim; it is a need that is demanded in our cities for several reasons…
Energy rehabilitation? For legislative reasons…
The energy consumption of our buildings represents a considerable part of our country’s energy consumption, so that the Administration is approving ever stricter regulations to reduce such consumption. Since the entry into force in 2006 of the Technical Building Code, the energy demand of buildings has been regulated by adequately conditioning their thermal envelope (facades and roofs), in a way that helps to limit this demand.
This requirement for the envelope of buildings must be met in new buildings and in existing buildings that renew more than 25% of their enclosures.
Energy rehabilitation? For reasons of habitability and comfort…
The facades of the buildings are elements of great thermal inertia. This means that they have the capacity to accumulate heat inside. In summer the facades heat up with the sun and release that heat accumulated at night when temperatures drop. On the other hand, in winter the facades absorb the heat insulation that is generated inside the buildings through the heating systems, releasing that heat to the exterior and diminishing its efficiency.
With well-insulated facades and roofs in our building we manage to avoid this problem by gaining comfort inside our homes and avoiding thermal losses, which allow us to save on our heating bills.
Energy rehabilitation? For socio-environmental reasons …
Spain is committed, like all countries of the European Union, to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, the protection of environmental reserves and the sustainable development of the planet through the approval of the Kyoto Protocol, the Berlin Conference, etc.
With thermally well insulated buildings, CO2 emissions to the atmosphere can be reduced by up to 60%. The improvement is considerable, but in Spain more than half of our buildings are built with poor or even non-existent insulation. Therefore, the Administration is trying to establish aid and subsidy plans to promote the energy rehabilitation of our buildings.
Energy rehabilitation? For economical reasons…
If our building is thermally insulated, we can reduce the demand for heating and cooling by up to 70% in order to achieve optimal indoor comfort conditions. The reduction of this demand translates into a very considerable decrease in our energy bills, which month after month are generating us a remarkable saving.
For all these reasons we consider that the energy rehabilitation of our buildings is not a passing whim or a fad, but a benefit for all of us as users and also a responsibility as citizens committed to the environment and the sustainable development of our planet.