Recticel Insulation explains what makes a truly energy efficient property, and why insulation isn’t all that matters when creating a more comfortable home to live in.
To find out more about adopting a fabric first approach, contact Recticel’s technical services helpdesk on 0800 085 4079, or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Adopting a fabric first approach is the simplest way for homeowners to achieve reliable, long-term performance from their home.
It’s easy to look at houses with solar panels, for example, and assume they are greener or cheaper to run than those without. But are appearances everything? Adding renewable technology to a building with poorly performing fabric is “like running a hot bath without putting the plug in”.
Bringing the building fabric’s thermal performance up to standard is the equivalent of putting the plug in the bath, stemming the loss of heat from the property.
Ensuring the continuity of insulation is vital to this process. Insulation products restrict the flow of heat energy through them, but heating the air inside the property is no use if it can immediately escape. If structural elements or materials of reduced thermal performance (like steel and timber) break up the insulation layer, then the efficiency of the layer is reduced.
Talking about ‘fabric first’ does not stop at insulation. Warm air can leak through significant gaps in the structure or the insulation layer, and it can naturally diffuse through building materials. Airtightness is therefore every bit as important as high levels of continuous insulation.
However, if you ‘build it tight’ then you have to ‘ventilate it right’, otherwise the stale, moist air inside the building will not be refreshed adequately and unhealthy living conditions will result. Ventilation is a whole other topic to be addressed in a separate blog, but it is a perfect illustration of how different issues interlink when considering the upgrade of an existing building.
The modern trend for well-sealed, airtight construction must be considered carefully relative to the age of the building. Applying modern construction materials and techniques to long-standing building fabric, which wasn’t designed to accommodate them, may actually cause deterioration of the fabric.
For example, condensation may occur unseen within the structure, storing up issues that are only discovered much further down the line, and which reduce performance in the process.