Insulated Walls

Written by Nicholas Kamuda
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One of the most effective features of energy-saving homes is having properly insulated walls. Insulation can effect the energy consumption of houses so much that there are entire websites, both government-run and private, dedicated to helping homeowners find the best insulation for their homes. There are also many modern building systems that have emerged in the last 30 years or so that incorporate well-insulated walls and energy-efficient construction techniques.

Organizations such as Energy Star are dedicated to increasing energy efficiency in homes across the country. The national Department of Energy also maintains a website describing techniques for finding suitable insulation, complete with links and recommendations. There are also a number of commercial sites and building how-to websites that have decent coverage of green ideas and energy efficiency, many of which have to do with insulated walls, windows, and ceilings.

Rating Insulated Walls

All of the types of building materials that are available are tagged with an R-value that describes their thermal insulation properties. The higher the R-value, the more insulation that the material offers, and the R-values of uncompressed materials can be stacked to create the sum of their R-values. This means that composite materials such as ICFs and SIPs can generate higher R-values by layering materials.

ICFs, or insulated concrete forms, are concrete forms made of high-density Styrofoam. The Styrofoam remains on either side of the concrete even after it sets, creating R-values as high as R-40 (twice that of normal wood-frame construction with blanket insulation). The resulting wall also has much higher noise-reducing properties and is much more airtight than traditional framing, as well.

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