Good Insulation Adds Comfort and Saves Cost

Private Property South Africa
Anna-Marie Smith

For those wanting to be in the know before buying a Cape home, a good start would be an understanding of the Western Cape’s Climatic Zoning. Which in accordance with the National Building Regulations and SA National Standards (SANS) 10400, has a Climatic Classification of a Temperate Coastal, Climatic Zone 4. Weather here is considered mild, in comparison to other interior zones including the Cold (1) Free State, Temperate (2) in the Eastern Cape, Hot (3) in Polekwane, Sub Tropical Coastal (5) in KZN, and Arid (6) in the Northern Cape.

Although coastal temperatures here seldom drop to extreme levels, ocean and wind conditions impact heavily on this climate. Heavy rainfall combined with high wind conditions during winter, and strong wind during dry summer months, mostly dictate ideal levels of interior insulation. In addition to added comfort, is the reduced energy consumption directly resulting from high energy efficiency, leading to immediate cost savings in utility bills.

Although the revised SANS regulations of 2010 in terms of energy efficiency building approvals, apply only to new builds, owners of existing and older buildings are free to benefit from these recommendations. Additional benefits, in particular to older structures are reduced maintenance, and added value to long term investments.

Lessons learnt about efficient insulation in the Western Cape hail from property owners and skilled industry operators, due to protection against all weather conditions. A shift in focus following idyllic Cape summers is seen during wet winter months, a period synonymous with hibernation, costly interior comforts, increased energy consumption, and high utility bills.

Cape builder John Nosworthy of J. F. Nosworthy and Sons says that savvy consumers, can benefit from the new energy efficiency legislation in various ways. He says although only applicable to new builds, the insulation regulations can be used as recommendations for new additions and extension to existing houses, as well guidelines for the retrofitting of older houses.

Typical Cape weather, including sharp drops in temperatures after first seasonal rain highlights leaking roofs, damaged ceilings, and flooring. Unlike top rated commercial buildings, where professional energy audits conducted through high-tech solutions, homeowners can benefit from skilled industry guidance. Poor insulation in coastal homes typically occur in double volume interior spaces with breathtaking views, where cavities occur inside roofs, ceilings, walls, attics, basements, and crawling spaces in plumbing areas close to baths, basins, and kitchen sinks, that cause air leaks. Windy conditions exacerbate the effects of poorly fitted window frames and doors, causing cold drafts and sand blown inward. Without spending large budgets, depending on individual structures, building orientation and lifestyle, existing houses can be successfully retrofitted.

As in the experience of new owners of a 20 year old coastal home on a sloped mountainside plot, who were determined to increase the family’s interior comforts while spending time in large double volume living spaces. Although this was only possible by considerable capital output initially, with the help of industry professionals, they were able to increase thermal masses to significant levels, by several degrees. By insulating high pitched roof areas, under floor cavities, and double glazing in large window spaces, they will continue to benefit from reduced energy bills in the future.

To learn more about the benefits of insulation, contact organisations such as the Thermal Insulation Association of SA (TIASA), who promotes the benefits of insulation to the building and construction industry, as well as sustainable energy efficient and affordable homes.

Other insulation industry bodies are:

Expanded Polystyrene Association of SA, Thermal Panel Manufacturers Association, Ceiling and Partitioning Industry Association, and SA Building Interior Systems Association.

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