This winter many regions of our country once again experienced bitterly cold temperatures. Some of us were shivering in un-insulated homes and offices. Cold bodies struggle with compromised immune systems and viral infections have a field day.
In the old days we would simply reach for a heater and medicine? But wait, does this make sense? Before we think heating, we need to think insulation. Why allow the cold air to flow in and warm air to escape? And vice versa during the summer?
Most people don’t want to hear this, but rising electricity costs carry a valuable benefit for the environment. People are more motivated to look at saving on those huge bills, predicted to double in a mere 3 year’s time. In our neck of the woods it’s evident that our winters are getting colder – we even had beautiful snow on the Hottentots Holland mountains – and our summers are getting hotter. In fact, Africa is heating up twice as fast as the rest of the world!
We were told by an insulation man that our office can experience an 8 degree difference in temperature if we install green, recycled insulation. This sounds like the perfect win-win solution to me. So let’s take a look at all the different greener ways of insulating our domestic ceilings, and why this makes complete sense.
On warm days the air in your roof is heated, and this heats up your house. Ditto the cold during winter months. When a layer of insulation is installed on the ceiling, it creates a barrier to stop this movement of hot and cold air. It makes for a much more stable environment inside the house, reducing the health threats of fluctuating temperatures and increasing the comfort of our homes. It also reduces the need for heating in winter and cooling in summer. Now we save electricity, money and carbon emissions. It also acts as a sound suppressor.
There are several fire-resistant insulation products on the market today. We prefer the products made of recycled materials, as this would up your green credentials even further. You can use insulation made of recycled PET plastic, recycled newspapers or even glass.
Isotherm, one of the most effective insulation products on the market is made from recycled PET bottles (think clear cooldrink bottles). This is derived from thermally-bonded 100% polyester derived from the polymer of recycled PET. All these bottles are 100% recyclable and therefore a renewable resource. This recycled products is light-weight, soft-textured, pleasant to touch and simple to install. How are they converted? The PET bottles are melted down, the impurities removed and the pure PET comes out as green pebbles.
They are spun in a sieve, what escapes through the holes cools down against an outer container in the form of fibres. These fibres are later bonded together in sheets of different thicknesses. Now we have a pliable, durable (30 years) product that doesn’t support the spread of flames and has one of the highest R-values of all insulation products on the market.
The good news is that this effectively removes around 80 million PET bottles from waste heaps each year and recycles them into practical and effective products adding value to residential, commercial and industrial property! Plus it creates an indoor temperature drop of up to 7% in summer. During the winter months it reduces your energy requirements by between 40 and 70%.
Isotherm can be installed in roofs and walls and is perfect for insulating geysers and water pipes. Non-toxic and user-friendly, it does not sustain vermin and is resistant to fungi and bacteria. Once correctly installed, there is no maintenance required.To boot it’s safe to handle and can be installed without wearing protective clothing, gloves or masks.
Thermguard is made from recycled newspapers and milled wood fibre (cellulose), with harmless household chemicals added to make the product fire retardant and insect and rodent resistant. Air entrapment minimises the hot or cold transfer by conduction through the material. The more air there is in the insulation material, the better its thermal performance. This feature, as well as the excellent natural qualities of treated wood fibre (cellulose) is what makes it so effective.
Cellulose fibre is manufactured by a simple milling process, which has very little effect on the environment. Cellulose is manufactured from recycled materials, saving trees from being chopped down and using material destined for landfill sites in an efficient and responsible manner. It’s also one of the cheaper forms of insulation.
Thermguard ensures their clients that they will never experience any bad odours originating in the roof, as it’s treated with a special formula of natural borates to prevent mold and fungal growth. This product will last forever, because it cannot support rot, mold or fungal growth. This is provided the material was installed properly by an experienced installer. Thermguard is an example of such insulation.
This is a pink, blanket-like thermal and acoustic insulation. It’s quite affordable, lightweight and easy to install. It also fits into hard to reach spaces. Thickness ranges from 40 to 135mm. There is also very little wastage, as the off cuts can be used to insulate your geyser and water pipes.
Aerolite is non-combustible and has a very soft, user-friendly surface. It is produced from a combination of naturally occurring minerals such as silica sand, which is a sustainable resource, and up to 80% recycled glass.
There are also natural options available overseas, like insulation made from treated sheep’s wool, flax and hemp fibres, recycled denim, wood fibre, expanded clay aggregate and soy-based polyurethane. We will be looking into the availability of these natural products next month.
Insulation is the first step in common sense greener living. Missing out on this step costs the earth and our pockets. Time for action.