Keep Your Heat Up and Your Costs Down With Foam Thermal Insulation Products
With winter’s chill looming large for many this time of the year, every snowflake is bittersweet, as they’re seen as things of beauty as well as another cent owed on the next heating bill. The more effort your heating and cooling systems must put forth to reach and maintain temperatures, the greater the cost of powering these systems. While the efficiency of one’s heating and cooling system may be part of the reason for an elevated bill, home insulation is one aspect of temperature conditioning that often goes overlooked. Many materials used in home construction, such as wood, glass, brick and concrete are poor thermal insulators and have very low R-Values, a measure of thermal resistance.
To ensure that your structure reaches and maintains the temperature you want, thermal insulation is used to keep homes and buildings more comfortable and more efficient. Closed-cell foam materials are frequently used in this kind of insulation and polystyrene and polyethylene are two of the most often used. Foam Factory proudly offers both of these materials to keep you comfortable in your home or business.
One of the first components of thermal insulation that must be understood before adding to or modifying a structure is R-Value. This is a material’s degree of thermal resistance, which can also be thought of as insulating capacity. To get these values, temperature change through a material is measured. The greater the R-Value a material earns, the better its performance as an insulator. Material thickness increases R-Value, because greater mass makes it more difficult for the movement of temperature through the material.
Foam Factory’s polyethylene and polystyrene sheet foams both tout strong R-Values, providing thermal resistance in any applications they are applied to. Foam insulation can be used throughout the house to help regulate temperature, including within walls and ceilings, as well as around pipes, ducts and other home systems. Foam Factory’s product line includes foam materials that can be used in any of these applications.
The most common place foam insulation is used is walls and ceilings, particularly as attic insulation. When untreated, these areas drain the conditioned air from the home, forcing your treatment systems to work harder to compensate. The application of attic foam is especially important, since the top of the home is in direct contact with the outdoor climate. One product that is excellent for lining walls and ceilings is expanded polystyrene, or EPS. Foam Factory’s polystyrene foam sheets are available in three different densities, with each increased density providing additional R-Value points. This range of material types is beneficial because individuals who need additional thermal insulation added can order a higher density instead of having to add thicker layers of less-dense materials. Essentially, the greater the density, the more insulation you get within the same material dimensions. The environment and temperature where the insulation is placed can affect R-Value, so Foam Factory had their three EPS densities tested at multiple temperatures, information provided on their polystyrene data sheet. The addition of thermal insulation materials to a home can also help improve sound quality. The installation of foam materials provides extra mass and barriers that noise must travel through, so it is also adding sound deadening insulation to the home.
There are many benefits to using expanded polystyrene as your home insulation. The greatest benefit may be that you can count on it for the life of your home. EPS is composed of structural material and normal air as opposed to gasses, and does not lose its insulating value over time. Extruded polystyrene (XPS) however, utilizes gases in its formulation that slowly dissipate as the material ages, dropping the material’s insulating R-Value. Spray foam is another popular home insulation method but also fails to measure up in some areas. The biggest advantage of EPS over spray foam is the ease with which it can be installed for do-it-yourself residential projects. Installing EPS doesn’t require special safety suits, there isn’t worry over a leak or spill causing a mess and it can be installed any temperature or time. Applying spray foam in cooler temperatures can affect the curing process, ultimately reducing its insulating performance. Rigid polystyrene is also more cost effective and being easier to install, many people do it themselves for even greater savings.
Foam Factory offers polystyrene sheets in a standard 24 by 48 inch size, with thicknesses of 1, 2, 3 and 4 inches available in the previously mentioned 1, 2, and 3 pound densities. Custom polystyrene insulation board can be ordered as well since Foam Factory receives their product supply in bulk. The maximum custom dimensions available are 96 by 48 inches up to a 32 inch thickness.
Another effective foam thermal insulation material is polyethylene. Often used as pipe wraps, polyethylene can help minimize the transfer of heat or cool away from treated water through its piping. Keeping water at its treated temperature equates to energy savings, as conditioning systems have to work less to maintain those temperatures. Water staying at temperature means conditioning systems consume less energy, equating to a lower bill. Polyethylene is available in multiple densities from 1.7 pounds to 9 pounds and can be cut in sheets ¼ of an inch thin. Anti-Static formulations are also available in three stock sizes: full sheets at 108 by 48 inches, half sheets at 108 by 24 inches and quarter sheets at 54 by 24 inches. Like the polystyrene, polyethylene can be ordered in custom-cut sizes as well.
Polyethylene comes in many forms and its cylinders are also very useful for thermal insulation jobs. Commonly recognized as swimming pool noodles, polyethylene cylinders are also made in very small diameters, some down to ¼ of an inch. These sizes are most often used as backer rod material in masonry, but these thin ropes of polyethylene serve a similar purpose in home construction while aiding in thermal insulation. In the construction of log homes, these sections of foam are forced between logs to fill gaps and block moisture, air and insects from entering the house. The area between the two meeting logs is then caulked over, a process called chinking. This creates a seal, as well as permitting the house to settle and flex with changes in weather, as the polyethylene only allows a two-point bond. If no foam filler was used, the putty or caulk would adhere to the area between the logs and cause damage as it pulls away from the three-point bond when the wood expands and contracts. There are many materials that can be used to fill the gaps under the caulking but polyethylene foam backer rod provides a strong insulating R-Value to add extra thermal protection to your home.
When it all adds up, thermal insulation is one of the smartest investments you can make. If the right materials are used and installed properly, insulation is a one-time cost that pays for itself in energy savings and makes your home a more comfortable place to be. Foam materials provide that, allowing you to get a return on your investment quickly and enjoy your savings sooner. With thermal insulation foam from Foam Factory, you can stay comfortable while saving money; a winning combination.
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