Tips From Our Experts

Ross asks: Can you please give me some guidance on types of insulation and air-conditioning units for my brick veneer home? I aim to keep the house warmer in winter and cooler in summer.

Insulation And A Brick Veneer Home

Ross asks

I am currently looking into under floor insulation and other methods to insulate my brick veneer home. I am to keep the house warmer in winter and cooler in summer.

I’m also looking to put in ducted air conditioning to aid in the heating and cooling but wanted some guidance in the best methods of insulation before going ahead with either purchase. Any guidance on what type of air conditioning units are advisable and guidance for installation would also be appreciated.

I’m looking to do the air conditioning asap ready for the heat of summer. The insulation is planned between summer and winter.

Our expert’s answer

Ross, thanks for your enquiry.

Draft sealing & insulation are both very important areas to look at when wanting to make your home more comfortable in both winter and summer.

When looking at insulation, ceiling insulation is probably of greatest importance; followed by wall and finally under-floor. With under-floor insulation, you should make sure that the product allows the timber floor to breathe – this can be done through small air gaps or perforations. Your supplier should be able to recommend a product that is suitable. Be aware that some forms of under-floor insulation (generally polystyrene products) would be contra-indicated if you live in a bushfire prone area due to the fumes they might release.

As far as air-conditioning goes, I would advise against a ducted system and instead recommend a number of separate reverse cycle heat pump/air conditioners. You will lose a lot of the efficiency of the system through the ducting and small units tend to be more efficient than larger units anyway. Look for a unit with CoP/EER greater than 4. Use of multiple separate units also allows for effective zoning of your heating/cooling. This is also where good draft proofing comes into its own. Keeping the heat/cold where you want it just makes good sense (and saves your dollars and cents)!

Issue 120 of ReNew has a good article/buying guide for heat pump/air conditioners. Choice magazine would also be a good resource for you, should you have access to this.

John Knox

John Knox

The technical advice provided by the Alternative Technology Association as part of the ‘Ask an Expert’ forum/website, in relation to home and building sustainability improvements, is general in nature only. The impacts of specific energy or water saving or sustainability products will depend on how and where the are used and located, and particularly for larger investments, we would always suggest users seek a specific assessment from an appropriately qualified building designer or service / product supplier.

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