Insulation: are there cracks in the batts story?

Insulation batts are the most common way keep your home warm or cool in Australia.

Something that most homeowners aren’t aware of is the fact that batts are often much less effective than they’re cracked up to be.
Recent studies by the University of South Australia show that the effectiveness of the installed insulation is closer to 40% of the theoretical ‘R’ rating of the batts used.   What this means for occupants is that air (both hot and cold) is slipping through the cracks, literally.  This escaping air is costing occupants large amounts of energy (and money) to keep rooms at desired temperatures.


Source - Kingspan

Installation is key
There are many reasons why batts don’t achieve the promised efficiency levels – the main one being poor installation. Most builders will agree that batts can be undesirable materials to work with and that installing them consistently and without gaps to is actually quite difficult.  These builders, for the most part, work to their best abilities, however the result often leaves a building with gaps through which air escapes. If enough gaps exist, the insulation is about as effective as it would be if it didn’t exist.

The problem with studs
Secondly, traditional houses use stud systems around which batts are ‘fitted’.  Even with proper installation of batts that restrict heat transmission, the surrounding studs still allow heat exchange, lowering the home’s energy efficiency and costing occupants in energy bills.  The heat transfer from this area of solid stud connection can be significant, especially with steel framing, yet is not even taken taken into consideration by energy rating software.  Companies such as Energy Leaks (www.energyleaks.com.au) measure such energy inefficiencies, claiming to be able to save home owners up to 30% on energy bills through identifying problems like heat loss.

The panelised approach
This is what makes panelised construction such a breakthrough for home insulation.  Panels like the Habitech Wall Panel are factory-made and have a continuous layer of factory-installed insulation inside.  Their erection as part of a panel based wall system ensures the insulation is delivered in place, to the highest of performance standards.

Are you facing the right direction?
All this discussion of insulation is interesting, but of course the best thing you can do is correctly orient your home to take advantage of the warming winter sun and provide shade from the summer sun. In many cases a prefabricated or off-the-catalogue home is unable to be aligned correctly on a given site.  Habitech solves this common limitation with a 3D computer modelling design tool and the ability to work in 0.45m increments - allowing you to take full advantage of site conditions and orientation.

For more information about our design process, click here.