The History of Home Insulation

Anyone who has sweated or shivered in a poorly insulated house all night trying to sleep knows that insulation is necessary to keep a home at a comfortable temperature. Insulation works by preventing heat transfer from one substance to another. This keeps warm air from escaping through windows, walls , and ceilings generated by a heater, or keeps cool air generated by an air conditioner from being warmed by outside air entering the house.

Ancient Egyptians were the first to use asbestos to isolate housing, and also used it for clothing and tableware. Ancient Greek and Roman houses had invented insulating cavity walls. By building two stone walls, these walls are formed, leaving a channel of air in between. Air is a natural insulator so this trapped air kept inside the houses the heat generated by the fires. Strips of cloth were also used to trap moisture and stop drafts in the Middle Ages, and again in America’s Great Depression.read more

During the 19th century, cavity walls were rediscovered, and used to build houses in Europe and America. To provide isolation, rock wool would be placed in the cavities. Asbestos was also used in this manner until the 1970s when asbestos was discovered to have the harmful health effects. Asbestos is no longer used in home isolation, since it can cause a rare cancer form.

Because in the earlier part of the 20th century the energy costs were low, houses were sometimes built without proper insulation. Houses were often constructed even in the 1950s, with single-layer solid masonry walls and single-pane glass windows. These types of buildings, without insulation, allow heat to quickly escape through the walls and windows.

Energy prices are much higher today, so all houses need to be constructed with proper insulation to hold down the energy costs. Most homes use as insulation fibreglass or extending inserted polystyrene foam into cavity walls. Fibreglass is so effective because it traps air in between the fibers of the glass and this air prevents heat transfer.

Isolation is important with today’s emphasis on making homes as environmentally friendly as possible, because it contributes to energy efficiency. Products such as paper cellulose, recycled cotton denim, and sheep wool are environmentally friendly choices used for filling cavity walls. Make sure a house is properly insulated, without any leaks or installation problems, both save the homeowner on energy costs and reduce the demand for energy production.