The best thermal insulators for your house

insulation materials

Investing in adequate insulation for our home is a wise decision that offers both comfort and long-term savings. However, it is essential to have a clear understanding of the fundamental concepts and recognize the importance of the insulating material and the strategy used to effectively insulate our home. Thermal insulation refers to the process of preventing heat transfer, but what exactly does it entail?

In this article we are going to tell you what they are the best thermal insulators for your house and what characteristics they have.

Importance of thermal insulation

Thermal insulation

The material that hinders the transfer of thermal energy or temperature fluctuations is known as thermal insulation. It effectively protects our homes from extreme temperatures, as it Its internal structure acts as a barrier against the flow of thermal energy.

Both natural and artificial materials can serve as thermal insulation. Examples of natural insulation include wood and cork, while artificial insulation options include polystyrene and rock wool. However, artificial insulation surpasses natural insulation in its insulating capabilities, since it has been designed specifically for this purpose. Regardless of the type of insulation used, the fundamental strategy remains the same: The insulation contains numerous small pockets of trapped air that prevent the transfer of thermal energy.

During the winter season, heat escapes from the inside to the outside in an uninsulated home, producing a cooling effect. On the contrary, in summer, heat infiltrates the interior from the outside, causing an increase in temperature. On the other hand, a properly insulated house prevents heat leakage from the interior during the winter, ensuring that a comfortable temperature is maintained inside. Likewise, in summer, insulation prevents the intrusion of outside heat, allowing us to enjoy a pleasant temperature inside throughout the year.

When it comes to home insulation, it is essential to ensure that not only is the thermal insulation effective, but also that all components of the building envelope provide the same level of insulation. This means that the windows and other elements of the envelope must be as insulating as the thermal insulation itself. In essence, a properly insulated home is one in which the insulation is integral and seamless, covering the façade, the windows and preventing any air leaks through bars or holes.

What type of thermal insulation is considered most effective?

The best thermal insulators for your house

The main consideration when selecting thermal insulation is its thermal conductivity, usually indicated with the Greek letter lambda (λ) and measured in W/K·m. This value indicates the material's ability to allow thermal energy to pass through. Consequently, a lower value is preferable as it means that less energy will permeate the insulating material, thus helping to maintain the desired temperature in the interior environment of our house.

Typically, thermal insulators have exceptionally low thermal conductivity, as this is a defining characteristic of such materials. To be classified as a thermal insulator, a product must have a thermal conductivity equal to or less than 0,05 W/K·m. The following are the thermal insulators commonly used in construction that exhibit the lowest conductivity, thus providing the highest level of insulation.

The best thermal insulators for your house

thermal insulation

Let's see which are the best thermal insulators for your house:

  • La Polyurethane foam, a member of the plastics family, has a thermal conductivity ranging from 0,025 W/K·m to 0,035 W/K·m. It is generally applied as a spray that solidifies into foam and effectively covers any gaps, but presents challenges in achieving uniform thickness control.
  • El extruded polystyrene (XPS), derived from petroleum, is usually supplied in the form of panels. With a thermal conductivity of 0,025 W/K·m to 0,039 W/K·m, it is among the best insulators and exhibits minimal absorbency and excellent compressive strength.
  • El expanded polystyrene (EPS), similar to XPS but more absorbent, is another petroleum-derived material with a thermal conductivity ranging from 0,029 W/K m to 0,046 W/K m. It offers good insulation properties at an affordable price, making it one of the most widely used materials today along with XPS and mineral wool.
  • La Mineral wool, also known as rock wool or fiberglass, is usually supplied in flexible or semi-rigid panels. The thermal conductivity of this insulating material ranges between 0,031 W/K m and 0,05 W/K m. The manufacturing process involves melting and stretching masses of rock or glass (fiberglass) to obtain tiny filaments, which are then pressed and combined with various additives to create insulating panels.
  • Another ecological option is cellulose, which is made from shredded paper and treated with fire retardant additives. It has a thermal conductivity of approximately 0,04 W/K·m and is commonly applied by insufflation or blowing, making it ideal for filling air chambers.
  • La wood fiber It is a less known option but equally effective and sustainable. Its thermal conductivity is 0,038 W/K m and is available in rigid and flexible panel form.
  • expanded cork, Derived from the bark of the cork oak, it has been used as insulation for many years. It has a thermal conductivity that ranges between 0,037 W/K·m and 0,040 W/K·m and has excellent durability and resistance to rot. Rigid expanded cork panels are commonly used to insulate facades and floors.
  • El cellular glass It is an exceptional thermal insulation material that offers a wide range of benefits. It is not only resistant to decay, waterproof and fireproof, but also has antiseptic properties. With thermal conductivity ranging from 0,035 W/K·m to 0,04 W/K·m, it effectively prevents heat transfer. However, it is worth noting that cellular glass has a higher cost compared to alternative insulating materials, which restricts its use primarily to specific focal points requiring insulation.

Examining this compilation, it can be concluded that polyurethane foam or extruded polystyrene (XPS) are the most effective thermal insulators due to their exceptionally low thermal conductivity.

I hope that with this information you can learn more about the best thermal insulators for your home.

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