So here’s a question we’ve been getting lately. What’s the big deal with thermal bridging? Why should I think about addressing it either in my current home or in my new build? It seems like a lot of work has to go into a measly R 7-10 upgrade.
Well here we go. Let’s talk thermal bridging. First off what is thermal bridging? Quick primer here on heating methods. Heat transfers (it is heat that moves, not cold) typically by 1) Convection (air currents so think of a forced air furnace) 2) Radiation (Think the heat of the sunlight through your car window) and 3) Conduction (Think about heating up a pot of boiling water on an electric range). Often a combination is used to provide heating for a house. Basically thermal bridging refers to the process by which heat moves either out of your home in winter, or into your home in summer through conduction. This conduction occurs whenever you have a good conductor of heat energy (and in this case good is a bad thing) spanning from the inside of your house to the outside. For example, studs, window frames, cantilevered joists, driveway rebar etc.
“Okay” you say, “I get how heat could move in or out of my house but with a vapour barrier and a layer of drywall surely the effect is miniscule at best!” Unfortunately you’d be wrong. By tweaking little things during the construction process we can make big savings. For example framing your walls at 24” o/c as opposed to the standard 16” o/c will make about a 10% difference in efficiency. That isn’t even adding costs to your build yet. Other advanced framing techniques will be able to further cut out wood from your framing at no extra cost to you.
Advanced framing techniques are a good first step. From there we highly suggest a layer of insulation to the outside of the wall. There are really good permeable insulation panels available for this purpose. It’s important to put the right thickness on the walls and have the correct permeability for each individual application. For that we consult with professional energy consultants who have the software to design optimal wall details. Adding 1.5” of foam to your wall assembly can instantly boost effective R-Value by almost 50%. That’s a huge step in the right direction!
So whether you’re building new or renovating, I hope you’ve been able to get some useful information from this blog. It’s so important to consider because you can’t go back to fix the bones of your house later. You can swap out flooring or countertops relatively easily, but adding insulation down the road to save on rising heating costs is very cost prohibitive. Do it right the first time, do it with Dueck!