Does insulation work in the summer?
Most people assume that insulation is something that keeps their home warmer in colder weather. While that is true, the actual impact of insulation is to slow the movement of heat between two spaces. What this means is that during the summer months the insulation will also prevent your home from overheating.
How insulation works?
To understand why insulation works well in both warm and cold weather, let’s take a look at how insulation actually works.
Bulk insulation, like wool or fibreglass, and indeed our external wall insulation, works by trapping little bubbles of air within the structure of the material. The EPS external wall insulation for example is 98% air, so it is extremely lightweight!
Air is an extremely good insulator when it is trapped and unable to move around, so by trapping little pockets of air within the insulation, you will actually produce a great insulating effect. And because this process is about preventing heat transfer, it doesn’t matter if it is warmer outside than inside, or colder outside. Either way, the warm air is not going to travel across that barrier, and the insulation will do its job.
The other type of insulation often used in homes is foil insulation. Rather than trapping air bubbles in its bulk, foil uses its reflective surface to deflect heat back from where it came. Whether that heat is coming from outside or inside. A common place that this sort of insulation is found is in loft and roof spaces. Sometimes you will see a combination of the two, with a shiny foil insulation surrounding a bulky wool-like insulation.
A fantastic but a premium solution for external insulation and mitigating the effects of heat in the summer could be the wood fibre insulation. This can be installed with a basecoat and silicone top coat – once fully finished provides a decrament layer against the heating effects of the sun in the summer months.
How to maximise the effect of insulation in warm weather
If you have insulated all the key areas of the home – especially your loft and walls, you are going to have created a really good barrier to prevent the heat from getting in on a baking hot day.
There are a few other useful tips however that will help make sure the heat stays outside and the cool air is inside!
You could of course get an air conditioner, but that would defeat the purpose of insulation as an energy saver wouldn’t it – so here are some other ways of stopping your home getting warm in summer without firing up the AC
- Solar gain is one of the main ways warmth is going to be amplified in the home. When the sun is out, it will shine down on windows and amplify the heat in the area behind it. Avoid this by using blinds, drapes and reflective materials in your windows to minimise the impacts of solar gain.
- Air circulation is really important. At night when it is cooler, open as many windows as you can to allow the house to cool. If you have fantastic insulation all that heat from the day isn’t going to be able to get out at night, so let the heat out when the weather is at its coolest. Once the sun starts to come up in the morning, close all your windows. If your home is well insulated and you have taken care of solar gain, it will actually take quite a while for your home to heat up. You can then maintain a cool temperature though the morning and into the heat of the middle of the day.
- Circulating the air with fans is fine, as it will make you feel cooler, but remember that anything electrical that is running in the house is going to make the ambient temperature higher, and the insulation is just going to trap it in. Turn all non-essentials off and try putting some water in a dish under the fan, or even better some ice. This will work as a cheap DIY air conditioner to cool the air in the room.
Is insulation still important in summer?
I think one of the best examples of insulation at work is if you venture up into your loft.
If you visit a well-insulated loft in winter, with lots of wool insulation between the joists, you will notice the area is really cold – this is because the heat is being blocked from reaching the loft by all that thick insulation below you.
If you visit this same loft during the summer months, you will notice that it is really hot up there. That is because the heat from the sun has warmed up the roof and loft space, but the insulation is slowing the movement of heat from the loft space down into the house.
You will also notice that a poorly insulated roof room (loft conversion) is really cold in winter but also really hot in summer – another great example of how insulation helps to moderate the temperature in a home.
Solid wall insulation does exactly the same thing! It means there is no need to put on the AC during the summer months helping to save you money then too!
I hope this illustrates the importance of insulation not just as a winter energy saver, but also to help keep the home cool in the summer months. The important thing to take away is that insulation is a barrier, and that barrier will help stop heat from transferring across it, whatever the direction!
External Insulation Installation is the best in the Summer!
If you are planning to carry out an extensive piece of work like external wall insulation, then it is best to carry out during the Spring and Summer months. This is not only because it provides the contractor good weather conditions, so that the works can be completed promptly, it is also the best time to insulate the fabric of the property. During the dryer, warmer months, the property has plenty of time to dry and allow for any interstitial moisture to dissipate, thereby leaving the external substrate in a good nick for the works to begin.
For loft insulation and internal works, like dry-lining the insulation, the weather conditions are not as important. The fact that those works involve working in the internal environment means that the contractor may prefer actually working over the colder months of the year.