The Basics of Insulation


Most people spend most of their time at home, so it makes sense that we want to be comfortable when we are at home. In addition, we want to ensure that our homes are as affordable as possible to maintain. To ensure that our homes are affordable to maintain and comfortable to live in, it must have insulation in it. Insulation is essentially your home’s clothes; it is necessary to protect the home from the elements just like clothes protect us from the elements.

For instance, if the temperature outside is 95 degrees Fahrenheit and you have the thermostat set to 72 degrees Fahrenheit, as long as you have proper insulation in the home, then the cool air will remain inside and the hot air will remain outside. This ensures your cooling costs are kept to a minimum and everyone inside remains comfortable. This seems simple, right? Well, the truth of the matter is that the entire insulation system is rather complex, with numerous books being written about it.

So, to help break it all down for you, this article is going to explain the basics of insulation. If you plan to remodel your home in the near future and would like to understand insulation a bit more, then this article is going to be right up your alley.

How Does Heat Move?

The primary function of insulation is to manage the flow of heat in the home. With that being said, you must understand how heat moves before you can truly understand how insulation works.

Apart from heat coming from the sun and also burning fuel, it is generated by lights, animals, and people. Believe it or not, up to 30 percent of heat is produced within your home by appliances and lights. The heat that is generated by these sources can move from one place to another via three main principles:

  1. Radiation
  2. Convection
  3. Conduction

To help you understand them, these will be discussed individually below. In reality, though, they are work simultaneously.


One of the three ways that heat moves is by radiation. Radiate means to send waves out and to shine brightly. So, when heat moves by radiation, it means that the heat is moving in the form of waves.

Imagine something for just a moment. Think about camping in the mountains. The air is cool one evening, so a campfire is necessary. As you sit by the fire, you start to get warm. The heat that you feel on your face, arms, etc. is moving by radiation from the flames of the fire to your body.


A second way that heat transfers is known as convection. This way utilizes the principle that cool air falls and warm air rises in order to transfer heat through the flow of air.

Let’s continue with the camping scenario that was used above. This time, though, it is time for dinner. To prepare dinner, you place a metal pan over the campfire grill. After just a few minutes, the metal pain has become hot, despite the fact that it is not touching the flames directly. How is that? The pan is hot because the flames heat the air, and the heated air has risen in order to heat the pan’s bottom. This type of heat transfer occurs through convection, along with a little help from radiation.


The last way that heat transfer occurs is conduction, which is the method that heat uses to move through a solid. In order for heat to transfer from one solid to another via conduction, the surfaces need to be in direct contact with one another.

If we go back to the above camping scenario at dinnertime, you throw a piece of chicken in the hot metal pan. The heat will transfer from the pan to the fish by conduction, thereby cooking it.

How Your Home Is Affected By Heat Flow?

Heat has the ability to transfer through windows, walls, and the roof of a home using a combination of the three methods mentioned above. It can move from warm to cold. During the summertime when it is warm outside, heat can transfer through the foundation, roof, and exterior walls of a home to the interior of the home. This particular process is known as heat game. During the wintertime when it is cold outside, the exact opposite occurs. Heat that is generated by the heating and air conditioning system will move through the property and will be lost to the exterior of the home. This particular process is known as heat loss.

During the summertime, you and your family may be uncomfortably warm as a result of uncontrolled heat gain. The thermostat in your home may react to the warmer temperatures, and the AC system could run more frequently than usual and for extended periods of time, which can cause a spike in your utility costs. This can also occur during the wintertime as a result of uncontrolled heat loss causing a chilly and draft home. In order to stay warm, the thermostat will need to be turned up, causing the heating system running more frequently and for extended periods of time, causing an increase in utility costs.

How Does Insulation Work Exactly?

A well thought out insulation strategy will consider the characteristics of the home as well as the climate, as these are both essential in managing heat loss and gain throughout the building. Insulation can help to minimize the rate of heat flow throughout the property, which can influence the comfort levels inside the home.

Generally, you refer to insulation by its R-value, which is the measure of its resistance to the flow of heat. The higher the R-value, the more resistant it is to heat flow. If you live in the North, you would want a higher R-value than someone who lives in the South since it would be more resistant to heat flow and could hold heat in longer.

It is important that a home is insulated continuously with zero gaps, as gaps allow cold air to get in. It is almost like wearing a jacket with no hat or gloves. However, it can be tricky to ensure there is continuous insulation, as there are numerous openings throughout a building like electrical outlets, lighting fixtures, plumbing pipes, doors, windows, etc. These all need to be sealed to ensure that the insulation is continuous.

Choosing the right insulation material and ensuring it is installed properly are crucial in your home insulation strategy. Now that you are familiar with insulation basics, get in touch with the professionals at Southern Valley Services about your remodel.

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