Posted on: 13 January 2017
One of the things that people often struggle to understand when it comes to home insulation is the difference between bulk insulation and reflective insulation. Not understanding the relative benefits and drawbacks of each type can become problematic if you decide to insulate your home yourself instead of using a professional installation company, and getting anything wrong can lead to uncomfortable living conditions, higher energy bills and the need to redo work in the future.
What's the Difference Between Bulk and Reflective Insulation?
Bulk insulation usually looks quite spongy, and, as the name suggests, is the bulkier of these two insulation types. Small pockets of air or gas are used to prevent the flow of heat, and there is the same amount of heat resistance whether heat is trying to get into the home or escape it; essentially, bulk insulation traps heat in when it's cold and helps prevent it entering when it's warm. Common types include polystyrene, polyester, rock wool and glass wool.
Reflective insulation is usually made from a layer of foil that is set onto paper or plastic. Instead of actually capturing the heat that tries to pass through in order to provide insulation, this type of insulation bounces heat away, hence its name. Common types include multi-cell foil and foil-faced boards and blankets.
Should You Use Bulk or Reflective Insulation?
In nearly all properties, it's best to use both types of insulation instead of picking one over the other. However, the type of property you own and its location in the country can play a role in determining which type of insulation you should use more.
Reflective insulation is generally preferable in warmer climates. This is because it is better at keeping heat out of the home, while bulk insulation is better at retaining heat. If you live in a warmer environment, using an excessive amount of bulk insulation can mean that your home stays hot. This isn't just uncomfortable; it can also mean having to spend much more money and energy cooling your home.
In contrast, bulk insulation is far superior if you are going to be insulating a home that sits in a very cold location. Remember, reflective insulation doesn't actually absorb heat, so it will start to cool down just as it cools down outside. This fact also helps explain why more bulk insulation tends to be used for older buildings; these older buildings will probably not be able to retain heat as well as new-builds.Share