Thermal Insulation

The effectiveness of a building assembly such as a wall or ceiling in resisting the flow of heat is measured as its thermal resistance or R-value (RSI value). Although most materials have some resistance to the flow of heat, the materials used for structure, cladding and finish generally have relatively low resistance, insulation is, therefore, added to reduce the loss of heat from the house. Wood-frame construction is quite easy to insulate since it incorporates many cavities which can be readily filled with relatively inexpensive types of insulation. The cavities or air spaces themselves have appreciable resistance to heat flow, but it is greatly increased by placing insulation in the space.

In the past, due to low energy prices, it was not common to completely fill wall stud spaces with insulation, or to insulate attics to a depth greater than that of the truss bottom chords or ceiling joists. Neither was it common to insulate foundation walls. Now, however, higher energy prices and our increasing realization of the need for energy conservation make it apparent that insulation should at least fill all available cavities within the building shell and that perhaps the shell construction should be altered to accommodate even more insulation. It has also become more apparent that uninsulated foundation walls are a major source of heat loss.

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