Insulation Has Greenest Bang For the Buck
Insulation. It’s not the fun part of going green. It’s not some astounding new and innovative technology. It’s not going to win any Da Vinci awards for creativity. But according to a new study by McKinsey & Co noted by Carbon Based writer Brian Thomas –it’s the most one with the most bang for the buck.
So if there is only one thing you can do to lower your carbon footprint – insulating your house is that one thing.
The first step is finding where your house is leaking heat.
Redoing insulation in existing structures takes time, trouble and money, but the payback is pretty prompt. In fact, upgrading insulation pays off so quickly that it’s worth doing even if you don’t care about the carbon footprint. The bottom-line improvement is even better than it first appears, because insulation helps keep the summer heat out as well as the winter heat in.
Conventional fiberglass insulation helps, and it is not hard to install. Even more effective in most circumstances is blown-in foam, which is well-suited for retrofits. Foam comes in many varieties, and you will have to research which one suits your project best.
The next step in retaining the warmth in your house is to use thermal mass
Thermal mass is usually heavy. Materials with high thermal mass soak up a lot of heat before they get warm, and lose lots of heat before they get cooler.
The earthy building materials â€“ stone, brick, concrete and adobe â€“ have the highest thermal mass. Drywall and studs, more typically used today, has the least.
Finally, use hot water to heat your home with radiant heat from the ground up
In the past, radiant floor heating systems have used natural gas or another fossil fuel to heat the water. But actually, this is a great use for solar hot water heaters to heat the water.
Radiant floor heating is amazingly efficient and simple. Water circulates through tubing in a thermal mass like concrete or gypsum flooring. People and pets find they are comfortable at a lower ambient air temperature on a warm surface. This means you can maintain the same level of comfort with a lower thermostat setting, saving energy and money.
If you are thinking of putting in a radiant floor remember the heated slab for radiant heat has to be included in the original design for a suspended floor/crawlspace system because it will weigh more. Typically, tubing runs through the slab. The slab is heated by pumping warm water through the tubing. Then the surrounding thermal mass absorbs and slowly gives off it’s heat.
In some retrofit projects you can use poured, self-leveling gypsum concrete (gypcrete) because many suspended floor systems can support them with little or no framing changes. But that has lower thermal mass, being lighter.
And if you are in a rental apartment and really cannot just dig up the floor? Here’s a portable radiant floor you can try out first. And when you do build, remember how nice a radiant floor feels.