The Benefits of Insulation
The benefits of insulation have been substantiated throughout the past several decades. Insulation will improve the performance of your existing equipment or minimize life cycle cost when adding a new high efficiency system.
There are many reasons to enhance a system with insulation. Although most commonly associated with its ability to provide a thermal barrier, mechanical insulation is engineered to provide the following benefits:
Energy conservation: provides resistance to heat loss/gain from systems. Reduced heat transfer can impact:
- Economics: by reducing fuel costs and protecting investments in equipment
- Energy: by minimizing the amount of fuel needed through a more efficient mechanical process
- Environment: by minimizing the emissions associated with burning fuel
Process control: minimizes temperature fluctuations to allow for equipment to run as it was originally design.
Condensation control: limits moisture and mold growth by keeping surface temperatures above the dew point.
Freeze protection: protects mechanical equipment from potential freezing.
Personnel protection: controls surface temperatures to safe levels.
Fire safety: isolates areas and protects equipment from the spread of fire.
Noise control: reducing/controlling noise associated with mechanical systems.
Typically, because the benefits are invisible, we tend to take them for granted. We forget that as insulation quietly performs its purpose it is part of an active mechanical system and is most often exposed to outside influences. Just as one would maintain the mechanical system, it is wise to check the integrity of the insulation. Studies have shown that between 10-30% of installed mechanical insulation is either damaged or missing within the first 5 years of use.
Ask yourself these questions:
- Is your insulation still intact and functioning properly?
- Has it been removed for repairs or periodic maintenance?
- When was your mechanical insulation installed? Does it meet current demands?
- Does it conform to current energy codes? Should you surpass minimum codes?
- Would adding more insulation improve the system?
The results of the D.O.E. “Save Energy Now” assessment studies showed that 53% of commercial buildings would benefit by replacing, repairing and upgrading the mechanical insulation. For those that pursued insulation as an opportunity more than 80% have seen a return on investment in less than one year.
While we are on the topic of economics, consider this… insulation can save you money now and can help safeguard your business from future increases when energy becomes more scarce and costly. Recent studies by the National Insulation Association show that, “Insulation is substantially underutilized by U.S. commercial and industrial facilities despite the enormous cost and energy savings potential. What many companies fail to realize is that a properly selected, specified, installed and maintained thermal insulation system is an excellent investment with high returns.”
If improving profits is not enough motivation, consider the environmental impacts. Since fossil fuels are the primary source of energy in the US, a reduction in energy usage will translate into a reduction in emissions from the burning of fossil fuels. Your building could reduce its carbon footprint and contribute less greenhouse gases.
Insulation products are one of the few building materials considered to be “carbon negative” in that reductions in carbon emissions over the life of the material far exceed the carbon emissions associated with manufacture, transport, and installation of the insulation products. Additionally, well insulated mechanical systems can often result in smaller size equipment, which also contributes to sustainability as well as reducing first costs.
How about employee satisfaction? Mechanical insulation reduces equipment noise, fan noise and sound transfer through pipes and thus reduces noise that causes stress, poor concentration, fatigue and loss of psychological well-being. Studies have shown that an improved air quality, comfort level, and reduced noise pollution improves employee productivity. Insulation on ductwork allows for more efficient delivery of conditioned air, improving personal comfort levels. When a vapor barrier is included the insulation system can help guard against condensation on cold pipes and inhibit the growth of mold, improving air quality.
The list goes on…
When it comes to insulation, it is not a question of if or why, but of when and how.
Learn More About: Heat Transfer