Building a new home brings several challenges. Not only do you have to think about the size and shape of the building but also how your new dwelling will be heated and cooled. A proper insulation from the right materials with the correct thermal properties will help create an environment that is energy efficient and comfortable to live in.
Prototype ecokit home being built in Jindabyne, NSW in June 2018
What is a building envelope?
When sealing a home for energy efficiency purposes, the first focus should be on the building’s envelope. This is the layer that separates a home’s conditioned living space from the outside. In simple terms it is the home’s heat-flow control layer, like an oversized fluffy sweater.
Benefits of a smart membrane:
- improved comfort that you instantly notice
- lower heating bills as the heat stays trapped inside
- efficient humidity exchange from the house
When we are referring to a building’s thermal envelope, we are discussing the airtight layer of smart membrane either on the outside or the inside of the walls. Correct attention to sealing and insulating this part of a home can mean big returns for the homeowner in value and comfort.
Just like you put a hat on in the winter because the heat escapes through the top of your head, the same kind of theory applies to your house. The better you utilise good air barrier, the better it works in conjunction with good R-value based on your climate zone, and this increases the efficiency of your home.
Why is a permeable wrap so important?
Air barrier prevents unwanted air from entering the building and conversely it prevents conditioned air from escaping a building. With smart membrane / permeable wrap, the upside is that it allows the building to ‘breathe’ and therefore prevents the moisture build up while providing an air barrier and improving thermal resistance.
Because of better efficiency of the airflow, a homeowner may find that the heating/cooling system in the home does not need to be as complex, which provides significant cost savings in utility bills.
Several practices should be taken into account when building an energy efficient home or increasing the efficiency of an existing home. Attention should be given to:
- purchasing the best insulated double or triple glazed windows
- adding the right amount of insulation
- proper insulation particularly in the attic space or roof cavity where heat often escapes
Important note: R-value depends on the zone in which you are living. In Australia, you can meet 8 zones. For a sufficient thermal comfort no matter the zone, you should aim for R-Value 5+. Ecokit can offer much higher standards exceeding these general recommendations, making it a perfect choice for passive houses in any zone.
The R-value is the unit of thermal resistance. The higher the R-value, the higher a building’s thermal resistance. In simple terms, the higher the R-value number, the warmer or cooler your home will remain. At ecokit, we’re eliminating the infiltration of air to and from the exterior. For an airtight building envelope a mechanical ventilation system is therefore very important, since we’re not relying on air leakage.
Last hint before you go
Air barrier and insulation should not be confused. Both are integral pieces of adding energy efficiency to our home.
If you are ready to take your future home to a whole new level, let’s talk about it! Couple of clicks in this form and we will reach to you in no time!