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What is K Value in Insulation? We Have The Answer!By admin
Thursday, 22 August 2019
When exploring insulation options for the home, there are many things to consider, with the first being whether your home has cavity or solid walls.
If the latter is true, will you be looking to place your installation inside or outside your home? What material will you use – spray foam, wool, or any of the other options that are available?
All highly valuable questions, and ones which we will be answering in the following article. So sit back, relax and we’ll guide you through the subject of insulation, via the alphabet…
Insulation: Know You ABCs!
Perhaps the most important factor to take note of however is the efficiency of the insulation.
What is K Value in Insulation?
K value, also referred to as a lambda value, and represented by the Greek letter of the same name (λ), is the measurement by which speed of conduction is judged on any thermal installation.
When it comes to insulation on the walls, floors and ceilings of your home, think of the K value as being akin to a golf handicap; the lower the score, the higher the ability of the insulation to retain any heat that circulates around a room.
This is because a low K value denotes very slow and steady conductibility, ensuring that heat will have to fight long and hard to escape from the confines of your home.
K value has no relevance to the thickness of material used, so applying greater or lesser amounts of spray foam, wood, wool or any other material of your choice will not impact on an installation’s K value.
Finding a material with the right sweet spot between these three scores will ensure maximum efficiency and a warm home all year around, regardless of the temperature outside your window
How Does R Value Impact on Materials?
Now that you know what K-value in insulation is, you will be able to apply this learning to R values. R value is the opposite of K-value, in that bigger is always better where this score is concerned.
A material with a higher R Value means that it can efficiently process, and conduct heat at high temperatures. You can calculate the K-value of a material by dividing it’s thickness in metres by the K-value – hence why the lower the better when you’re dealing with K-value in installation.
Spray foam, such as that available through Home Logic, offers the most energy efficient form of home insulation on the market.
That Just Leaves U Levels!
So, we have discussed what role K value plays in insulation, and the impact that will have on R-values. Where does that leave us with U levels?
U levels sit snugly in the middle of their K and R counterparts, measuring the speed that heat departs from a solid material based upon the thickness of the material in question.
Much like K levels, an energy efficient U-level score should be at the lower end of the spectrum, and can be calculated by dividing a material’s R-value by its K value.
Insulation technology is changing and advancing every day, with thinner boards for interior insulation becoming increasingly popular, so now that you know what K-value in insulation refers to, you can make an educated decision when choosing the best-fit material for the job
Which Materials Provide the Lowest K Value?
Every material that is used within construction has a unique K-value, or lambda score. Natural stone, for example, typically has the highest of all possible K-values, which is why an older home constructed purely of this material is typically the least effective at retaining heat.
Concrete fares little better, but brickwork has a much more impressive lambda score. This is why most modern homes are constructed with cavity walls, which are ripe for the installation of insulation.
If you are looking to insulate your home, consult with a professional and make an informed decision on what materials to use based on these all-important scores.
Just be aware that the values will not necessarily remain consistent throughout their lifespans, especially R-values, and may need to be replaced at some stage. Most reputable providers will offer a guarantee of around 25 years.
As discussed earlier, a K-value will not necessarily draw any impact from the thickness of a material (though the R-value obviously will).
Now I Know About K-Value, Can I Install Insulation Myself as a DIY Project?
This option is not recommended – this is a dangerous task even in experienced hands, and, as such, should only ever be attempted by a qualified professional.
Spray foam is the most efficient form of insulation, performing to an even higher standard than the popular choice of boards, but is not something to be toyed with if you have no idea what you’re doing. For your own safety, and the assurance of quality work, let the experts handle this.
If you change your home insulation model to accommodate a more efficient K-value, then it almost certainly will. This goes double if you are switching the focus to heating your home more efficiently, changing from electrical storage heaters to central heating, for example
Will a Survey Reveal the K-Value of my Walls?
If you look to undertake an efficiency survey of your existing wall, floor and attic spaces, you may be able to glean some insight into whether the K-value – and by extension, the R-value and U-value – of your choice of insulation (if any) can be improved.
This is particularly advisable if you live in one of the older properties that we previously profiled, as thick stone walls would benefit hugely from some form of additional insulation technology.
An official structural survey is also recommended if you are weighing up the purchase of a new property, as this will help shine a light on whether you would be best served making improvements before you seek to move in.
If you can improve the K-value of your home’s insulation before you start switching on central heating and generating utility bills, you will maximise your energy efficiency before you start to pay costly monthly bills – and minimise the potential for disruption by having the work taking place while you are living in the property.
Does K-Value Affect Energy Efficiency?
If you change your home insulation model to accommodate a more efficient K-value, then it almost certainly will. This goes double if you are switching the focus to heating your home more efficiently, changing from electrical storage heaters to central heating, for example.
If you are embarking on a major home insulation project, it makes sense to also consult sites such as MyEnergy to see if similar adjustments to your utility suppliers will enhance your quality of life, and reduce your monthly outgoings.
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