The differences between Thermal Insulation, how to choose the right R Value

Looking to invest in thermal insulation for your home or commercial building? Thermal insulation can help create a more comfortable indoor environment and reduce electricity costs.

However, to experience maximum benefits it’s important to choose the right type of thermal insulation and R-Value for your project. Check out the information and expert advice below to get started.

What is thermal insulation? How does it work?

Without any barriers, heat will travel from areas of high thermal energy (warmer areas) to areas of lower thermal energy (cooler areas). This can be a problem for our living and working spaces in summer when the heat outside creeps inside. Similarly, it is an issue in winter when our indoor spaces lose heat and become uncomfortably cold.

That’s where thermal insulation products come in. These products are made from materials which are good at reducing or slowing down heat transfer. In other words, thermal insulation products help us keep indoor spaces cooler during the summer months and warmer during the winter months.

What are the different types of thermal insulation?

There are many different types of thermal insulation products for residential and commercial buildings including:

  • Bulk insulation batts or rolls
  • Blown-in or loose fill insulation
  • Reflective foil insulation
  • Foam boards and rigid foam

While each type of insulation has its advantages for different applications, one of the most important factors to consider is the R-Value of the product. In Australia every thermal insulation product will be assigned an R-Value.

What is R Value?

The R-Value of an insulation product refers to how well it insulates. Or in other words, how effective it is at slowing down the flow of heat. R-Values range from R1.0 to R7.0. A higher R-Value will be more effective at reducing heat transfer than a lower R-Value.

R-Value is calculated by dividing the thickness of the product (m) by its thermal conductivity (W/mK). The greater the thickness and the worse the material is at conducting heat, the higher the R-Value will be.

What are the Australian R Value regulations?

In Australia if you are building a new home, you are required to meet minimum R-Values for different areas of your home. The R-Value regulations are based on your location and local climate. You must comply with the regulations to ensure your home receives a Certificate of Compliance (COC).

There are also insulation regulations in the Building Code of Australia about ventilation, electrics and installation standards. These regulations ensure insulation does not present a safety hazard to any occupants.

What R Value insulation do I need for my ceiling?

The ceiling is the most important area of a building to insulate because it is responsible for the largest amount of heat loss and gain. Therefore, it is worth investing in a higher R-Value for this area of your home.

Experts recommend installing at least:

  • 0 for cooler climates such as Melbourne, Sydney and Adelaide.
  • 0 for warmer climates such as Perth, Brisbane and northern New South Wales.
  • 0 or R7.0 for alpine locations.

To ensure you are complying with local insulation regulations, be sure to research the exact ceiling R-Value recommendations based on your location.

What’s the ideal R Value for walls?

The second most important place to install thermal insulation is in the external walls as much of a building’s heat loss and gain occurs here.

Expert recommendations for wall insulation are:

  • At least R2.0 for warmer climates like Perth, Brisbane and northern New South Wales.
  • At least R2.5 for cooler climates like Melbourne, Sydney and Adelaide.

Of course, you can upgrade to a higher R-Value if your budget allows. This will improve the efficiency of your wall insulation, keep your home at a more comfortable temperature and reduce energy consumption.

Do I need thermal insulation in my internal walls and floor?

To experience the true advantages of a well-insulated home, it’s important to insulate your internal walls, under your floor and between floors if you have a multi-storey home.

Internal Wall Insulation

Thermal insulation in your internal walls will significantly improve the efficiency of your heating and cooling. For example, if you turn the air conditioner on in one room, internal wall insulation will help prevent heat from creeping into the room. Without internal wall insulation, your air conditioner will have to work much harder, increasing your electricity costs.

Underfloor Insulation

Thermal insulation under your floor can help reduce heat loss and gain and make your home more comfortable year round. Older homes that are built on a raised platform are particularly prone to heat loss and gain through the floor. Installing insulation underfloor batts can make a tangible difference to the temperatures inside your home.

Experts recommend installing at least R2.0 insulation under the floor.

Mid-floor Insulation

Although it’s often overlooked, thermal insulation between floors will make a big difference to your home’s energy efficiency and comfort. Much like internal wall insulation, mid-floor insulation will help you create climate zones within your home for more efficient heating and cooling.

Pro-tip: If you are installing internal wall insulation or mid-floor insulation, consider specialised acoustic batts which will help prevent the transfer of noise throughout your home.

Should I upgrade to a higher R Value? Is it worth the cost?

Thermal insulation products with a higher R-Value such as R5.0 or R6.0 will tend to be more expensive than lower R-Values. However, investing in a higher R-Value at the outset may be worth the extra cost.

Heating and cooling are two of the biggest energy costs for Australian households. By choosing a higher R-Value, your home will be able to regulate temperatures better and remain comfortable year round.

More effective foam insulation andover mn will make heating and cooling more energy efficient when you do choose to use your air conditioner or heater. That’s why higher R-Values can lead to significant savings on your electricity bill over time.