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Heat loss is expensive: here’s how to avoid it with NZ Foam

Heat loss is expensive: here's how to avoid it with NZ Foam

Spray foam insulation has the highest R-Value rating of any insulation available on the planet. That’s because it fills gaps and cracks, doesn’t settle or sag, and can be applied to awkward areas. While the benefits of spray foam are well known in sectors other than residential, awareness is now rising in the housing sector. Spray foam has an R-value of 4.29 at 90mm thickness, so it’s the best product to ensure ambient indoor temperature year-round, even in regions where temperature extremes are expected – and it will perform for the lifetime of the building.

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What is the ideal indoor ambient temperature?

The WHO recommends indoor temperatures of 18°C. In New Zealand, BRANZ has found that many homes drop well below that in winter with interior temperatures as low as 10°C at night. Spray foam is the best way to combat cold, damp homes and gives families the best thermal performance possible by filling and sealing small gaps to block the transfer of air.

Is the New Zealand Building Code providing sufficient thermal performance requirements? Not if you’re aiming for a warm, comfortable home. The NZBC lags dramatically behind international standards. An OECD Environmental Performance Review of NZ in 2017 showed our standards were less stringent than many other OECD countries and recommended modernising the code to avoid underperforming new builds.

Insulation is the key for improving thermal efficiency, but not all products are equal, so it’s worth weighing up pros and cons of various products. Spray foam is becoming sought-after not only due to its R-Value; it is also a rigid barrier, adding strength to buildings, which in earthquake prone regions, means additional peace of mind. In flood-prone areas, spray foam is the only insulation classified as ‘acceptable flood-resistant material’ by the US Federal Emergency Management Authority. Batt or blanket types are classified as ‘unacceptable’.

Because of its extended lifespan and ability to dramatically improve a home’s energy efficiency, spray foam has a much lower environmental impact than other insulation materials. The Spray Polyurethane Foam Alliance in the US completed a life cycle analysis to look at the environmental impact of the manufacturing as well as the energy use of spray foam in homes. The study showed foam paid back the energy of production in 1-2 years and paid back the greenhouse gas emissions in nine months instead of eight years, resulting in a reduction of greenhouse gases over the product’s 60-year lifespan.

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