Adopting a fabric-first approach to energy performance is the best way to minimise unexpected running costs for occupants and future-proof your building for more stringent building regulations. We call it the “Wrap It, Then Heat It” method.
Using insulation effectively is an easy way of reducing the energy performance gap and means you’re less reliant on active technologies which don’t always deliver the carbon benefits they claim. Insulating a building may sound simple, but the devil is in the detail. What might seem like small design changes or necessary substitutions onsite can have a big impact on energy performance.
There are lots of different types of insulation with different pros and cons. The best options for your build will depend on the construction type, skill-set of your workers and budget. You may also need to consider fire-resistance and the sustainability credentials of the insulation.
Often there are cost pressures when choosing materials, but it’s worth bearing in mind that what seems like a cheaper product may not always work out that way in the long run. One reason why glass mineral wool is so cost-effective is that it’s “made to measure” and easy to cut to fit into awkward spaces. It’s flexibility also means it’s easier to get a snug fit against rough or uneven surfaces.
Find out more about the different applications for glass mineral wool insulation in our solutions guide.
The most important principle when insulating for energy performance is continuity. Imagine your insulation as a giant blanket enveloping your building. The more holes you have, the more warm air you’ll lose.
Achieving this thermal envelope is harder than it sounds. The challenge comes at corners, joins and openings – i.e. where doors and windows fit into walls. Creating a consistent thermal barrier may require some creativity in the design of construction details, particularly where the building design is more complex.
You may also need to train up site operatives to tackle more complex construction details. The Zero Carbon Hub’s Builders’ Book is a pictorial good craftsmanship guide that shows how you can insulate tricky corners and joins to prevent air gaps and thermal bridging.
It sounds counter-intuitive – why spend money to make your building air-tight only to open it up again? But the better you insulate a building, the more important it is to include effective ventilation. An average household produces 21 pints of water a day from cooking, washing, drying clothes and simply breathing! If there’s nowhere for it to go, this moisture builds up inside the home and can cause condensation problems.
While you want ventilation, you don’t want to lose all that heat you’ve worked so hard to retain. Mechanical Ventilation Heat Recovery (MVHR) systems use a heat exchanger to transfer the heat from ventilated air to fresh incoming air, improving air quality inside the building and lowering energy bills.
In the future, Building Regulations for energy performance are likely to get even tighter, requiring homes to achieve higher insulation standards. Get ahead of the changes by focusing on a fabric-first approach using sustainable glass mineral wool insulation.