Insulation is cool-A A +A
Wednesday, May 19, 2010
WE may all not agree on political views. We may be rooting for different basketball teams in the NBA playoffs. But one thing for sure: 100 percent of readers can agree that the weather’s been excruciatingly hot lately.
Malls are packed, with foot traffic averaging from the regular to the highest; and thermostats are set to the lowest. We are doing everything in our knowledge to keep our heads cool. But are we really?
It’s not just about how big and powerful the air-conditioning systems are in your homes. It’s not just how tinted your glass windows are, or how high you construct your ceiling. What most people don’t know is that most structures, if not all, require insulation.
What is insulation? In a nutshell, it’s a material placed in your roofs, ceilings, walls, etc., so as to keep the heat of the sun out and maintain room temperature. There are two types: the mass insulation, and the reflective insulation.
There are numerous types of mass insulation. From concrete or brick, to fiberglass or foam. The trick here for such material to function at its best is simple: density. But it is not only limited to that, of course, but what makes up the material also plays an important factor also.
One example of such is Ecofoam. The material is an eco-friendly construction material that starts as a liquid substance that is sprayed onto surfaces. After a few seconds, it dries up into solid foam. What you have now is a “polyurethane insulation.”
According to Marie Tiu, head of the Construction Division of S.E.A Olympus Marketing Inc., Ecofoam is “versatile, energy efficient, seamless, self-flashing (from the word “flash,” a construction jargon referring to the “filling up of spaces”), easy to maintain and lightweight.”
Also, this type can last decades without rusting. This is even self-extinguishing and works pretty okay acoustically. The material makes use of hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFC) instead of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs)—the latter strictly banned in other countries for its negative effects on the environment. On the other side of the coin, we have the reflective insulation.
“Reflective insulation is the most suited type for hot weather,” says Astro-Foil International Inc. president and CEO Vincent V. Colina. The company specializes on, as their brand name suggests, foil. (aluminum foil to be exact.)
These guys look at the science of insulation with a different view. According to Vincent, insulation largely relies on the “emissivity” and “reflectivity” of a surface material; and is “directly converse.” So what is this, emissivity and reflectivity, exactly?
Imagine the roof of your house and the sun shining brightly at noon. The ability of whatsoever insulation material you have—to reflect the sunlight away so as to keep your house cooler—is called reflectivity. Emissivity, on the other hand, is how much heat passes through the material and goes into your living rooms.
Both are measured in percentages. For example, a regular glass’ emissivity is measured at 95 percent. Thus, the ability of regular glass to reflect the heat of the sun away (which, in this case, is reflectivity) is only five percent.
For Astro-Foil (and not all aluminum foils out there in the insulation business are the same), it claims only three to five percent emissivity and 97 to 95 percent reflectivity. Thus this is almost a sure way of keeping the heat out and saving a lot of energy in your houses.
Now before all of this boils down to some boring science lecture for geeks, the focus here is simple. Lest we neglect the importance of such in our homes or buildings, let us remember: knowledge on insulation can make you cooler than you think.