Energy-efficiency in tiny homes is one statement you will hear of many times from the tiny curious whose answer is always “No”. It is inexpensive for any tiny home to operate from the energy standpoint view though it doesn't mean all tiny houses are efficient. Insulations in tiny homes can help you save money and decrease your chances of booting emissions when effectively planned. Before rushing to hardware shops to acquire insulations or hire professionals to do the work for you, it is very important to have knowledge of the usual basics.
The hidden trick when it comes to insulating your tiny house is getting to know the right mix that correlates the insulation thickness and the R-value. The ideal insulation for your home is something that will stabilize your internal climate without taking up a large space.
Plan your insulation under the principle that heat rises naturally. The thickest insulation should be at the ceiling and the floor having the thinnest. For efficient insulation, the process should be included in the first stage plans of your build. You need to be familiar with how much space you want to insulate within the walls, ceiling, and floor as well as the effects you are likely to face during the whole process.
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Roof and Walls Insulation
As far as the insulation thickness of your tiny home goes, the roof will offer the most flexibility. You can even add one or two layers without taking much space in the living room. Vertical positioning of your roof can decrease your insulation cost and use more form insulation types. The most important concern on roof insulation is the nature of heat transfer. Always go for strong and thick insulation as it helps to prevent the escape of the rising heat from your home.
Insulation of tiny homes is convenient in all ways. Its primary function is to prevent the under surfaces of your home from enabling heat to seep through the floor. When insulating tiny homes, fix the insulation in the trailer frames all around and make it highly insulative with a few inches of insulation.
Allow your cavities to breathe so that it can be able to release moisture, vapour drive is a real thing. When you have a confined space, never add toxic materials most especially when you do not have them. Also allow your air cavity to be at a maximum notch, do not follow the statistic rule that suggests outdoor air is better than indoor air.
How to Measure Insulation
The R-value metric which measures thermal resistance standardises the efficiency of insulation. The R-value varies in different insulations in regard to the thickness, type, and material used. Higher R-values provide better insulations providing greater thermal resistance. The highest R-value, when used in tiny homes, gives convenient thermal protection without taking up much space. What you need to keep in mind is that the R-value of different insulations can change based on time, age, moisture, and temperature changes. These factors can in a long way lower the R-value of insulations.
Insulation Options for Tiny Homes
Below is a list of the best insulations on the market currently.
• Loose-Fill and Insulation Roll Batts
These two are the most common and the cheapest insulation options available in the market in large stock. They are made from cotton, denim, fiberglass or even wool. Both materials have an R-value of between 2 to 3.5 per inch. However, the insulation of batts is much easier to install and more efficient than loose-fills.
They can be used on ceilings and walls to close up space when laid in a straight form. The insulation can sometimes sag and even shift its position due to the motion of having it in a tiny home. Batts is the most recommended option for your roof insulation as they stay in place for long and increases the advantage of their thickness when arranged vertically. Their only disadvantage is of this method is that you will need to install them on the frame or either tack them temporarily against the ceiling boards before installing them in the roof.
• Its installation is easy
•Its cost is more effective
• Can cause lung-related health issues.
• Open spaces form in between when poorly installed.
• Can conduct heat sometimes
• Rigid Foam Insulation Board
The rigid foam insulation board is bought in thick large sheets of about 1 to 2 inches. They are much easier to work with, efficiency to spray foam, and have a similar R-value. Those with little experience in installing them can just cut the desired size and shape and install the foam board with no much difficulty. Foam insulations are the best option to go for when it comes to tiny houses. They are most commonly found in 3 types, namely:
1. Expandable Polystyrene (EPS)
Smoothfoam Sheet Crafts Foam for Modeling, 2 by 12 by 36-Inch, White
FloraCraft Smoothfoam Block 1.9 Inch x 3.9 Inch x 11.8 Inch White
They are the cheapest and lightest foam insulation boards with the highest level of insulation batts of about 3 to 4 R-value. They are trapped with large bubbles of air making them expandable hence easy to work with. Its biggest benefit is on the stability of the EPS as it does not lose its R-value unless it gets damaged physically.
2. XPS Polystyrene
Also called the extruded polystyrene, they are made with similar material as that of expandable polystyrene though the XPS has smooth sheets instead of molded beads. They are costly than the EPS but more efficient and pretty easy to work with at your home. The polystyrene has an R-value of around 5 and easily identifiable by its common bright pink colour. Its biggest disadvantage is on its longevity as it can lose more than 20% R-value as time goes by. XPS can be found in any major hardware store around you in a Pink Panther theme.
It is the most efficient rigid foam insulation board available in the market. Its R-value is between 6 to 6.5 with protective material on both sides making it the most expensive rigid foam available. The protective material helps to maintain its shape enabling it to last long. When installed it seems to be the best insulation option for tiny houses. Its dark side is that it sometimes losses its insulative properties just as the temperature begins to drop. It is never the best option for tiny houses found in climate zones below 50 degrees Fahrenheit.
• No special protection is required during the installation process.
• Their prices range between expensive and low-cost insulation.
• Requires drywall coverage in living spaces
• Needs maximum sealing on all joints and cuts to stabilize the tight air enclosed
• Spray Foams
For good reasons, spray foams have been used in upscale buildings for more than a decade. Spray foams act both as air sealants and as insulators. Just like adhesives, they are sprayed against boards and walls where they seal perfectly. Spray foams require experts to fix as a small mistake can ruin the whole installation. A small error can greatly reduce its R-value, smelly off-gassing, and even improper cure.
To do it efficiently, you will need to mix several chemicals in appropriate proportions. When applied on the walls, they form a strong bond between the exterior vapour barrier and the framings of your tiny home. After applying, the spray foams expand massively
• Applicable to any kind of surface regardless of the home location.
• Has a higher R-value density.
• They reduce the transmission of sound
• Toxic gases are produced during installation.
• Requires specialized to install.
• Very Expensive
Spray foams are categorised in two different forms; open-cell spray foams and closed-cell spray foam.
1. Open-Cell Spray Foams
They are softer, lighter, and easy to work with at your home. Compared to the closed-cell spray foams, they are cheaper and easy to install. Open-cell spray foams expand massively and rapidly up to 100 times its sprayed size when applied appropriately. They have an R-value of 3.5 to 4.
Its disadvantage is that it overfills easily and hence it requires specialized personnel to fix the right amount in the required location. The Open-cell spray foam is softer and less likely to experience vibrational damage thereby the valid option for tiny houses. It is easier to work with and it uses fewer propellants in the form of volatile chemicals.
• Can be relocated using a vacuum.
• Fills easily on ductwork and pipes.
• Holds a lot of moisture.
• Irritatable on lungs, skin, and eyes.
2. Closed-Cells Spray Foams
It is the most efficient and densest insulation option for those living in tiny homes. The spray foam has a high R-value of between 6 to 6.5 allowing tight air and moisture seal in between the houses' frame and the exterior vapour barrier.
To install the closed-cell spray foam safety and effectively in your tiny home, you will need a professional to carry out the work for you. This is due to its dense and rigid foam that can cause movements in between. When small cracks are formed during installation, the surface allows heat and air to flow through.
• Has a high R-value.
• Thick and most efficient spray foam.
• Eliminates the need to divide vapour barriers
• Requires a skilled workforce to install.
• Expensive to acquire
• Structural Insulated Panels
Also known as SIP panels, they are relatively new in the construction industry. The structural insulated panels involve fixing of insulation material in the walls instead of insulating after building the wall. The thick layer of foam between the two pieces gives a strong, excellent insulating capability.
Its R-value comes in different values depending on the used insulative agents. You can make an order on the sized panels you require and assemble them in place and ease your construction. This reduces your construction cost and time, instead of first building the frames, attach to the walls, and insulating.
• Do not compress like other insulation materials.
• Reduces the cost and time of construction
• Cannot be used in cold climate zones.
• The dirt that builds up in the spaces can reduce its performance
Tips on House Insulation
• Always make sure your house is well ventilated to prevent building up of too much condensation and heat.
• Fix all the leaks before insulation as it is sometimes hard to trace them after finishing the work.
• Plug leaks to minimize loss of air in areas around the doors and windows.
• Wear working gears such as dust masks, hand gloves, safety glasses, and long pants to prevent skin irritation and intake of harmful substances.
• After finishing the job, immediately vacuum all your to minimize the chances of skin irritation.
How to inspect and evaluate your house insulation
To get efficient energy in your home then you have to insulate the right way, starting from the foundation to the rooftop. To effectively seal off your living space in unfinished attic spaces, insulate in between the floor joints.
Also, your ceiling should be properly insulated to allow the temperature in your home to remain the remain optimum. Do not forget to consider insulating your rafters so as to control the distribution of heat in the conditioned space.
Cross-check the floor, attic, walls, and areas adjacent to unheated spaces like the basement or the garage. Most of the structural elements are in these areas, making it easy for you to note the best type of insulation to use.
For exterior walls, inspect them using an electric outlet. Follow the following steps
1. Turn off the outlet power.
2. Dispose of off the outlet cover to see the thickness of the insulation.
3. Pull out a small piece if you would like to determine the type of insulation used.
4. Measure the thickness of the insulation accordingly and contact the energy department to determine the R-values of the insulation installed in your home.
When carrying out insulation, make sure you get to know the best insulation to use together with the full R-value you are paying for.
Do these two things during the installation process
1. Use grade one installation quality to fix up your insulation.
2. Install the most possible minimal thickness, do not install average thick insulations.
It is a good idea to go back to the design phase before starting the installation process, this is to make sure you have eliminated thermal bridging as well as get full thick coverage. It is important to insulate your home but you only get the chance to do it right after decades when the house gets gutted. It is essential to understand how the process is carried out.
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