To understand how residential insulation works, you need to understand heat flow, which involves 3 mechanisms: radiation, convection and conduction.
Radiant heat moves in a straight line and will heat up anything in its path that absorbs energy. Convection is how heat circulates through gases and liquids, and it’s the reason why warm, lighter air rises, and dense, cooler air sinks. Conduction is when heat moves through materials – for example, heat travels to your hand through the handle of a spoon when you place it in a cup of hot coffee.
Most residential insulation materials work by slowing down the flow of conductive heat and, to a lesser extent, convective heat. Reflective insulation systems and radiant barriers work by reducing heat gain. However, the reflective surface must face an air space to be effective.
Irrespective of the mechanism, heat travels from warm to cool until there is no temperature difference. So, during winter, heat flows directly from all heated spaces in homes to unheated basements, garages, attics, and even to the outdoors. Also, heat flow can travel indirectly through interior floors, walls and ceilings – wherever there is a difference in temperature. In the cooling season, heat flows inside from the outside.
To stay comfortable in cool weather, heat loss must be replaced by a heating system. In hot weather, heat gain must be removed by a cooling system. A properly insulated home will reduce this flow by providing resistance to it.
At Polk County Insulation, we have been providing residential insulation services for the last 30 years in the Lakeland/Winter Haven areas. Contact us today for all your insulation needs!