insulation what is it and how does it work

What is Insulation and how does it work?

You've probably heard that insulating your geyser is a good investment, but did you know insulating your home is an even better investments that can save you money and energy. Find out what insulation is, why you need it, what it does and what type is best for your home.

Do I need insulation?

In a word, yes. Insulation can help stay cool in summer and warm in winter, saving you money in the process.

What is insulation?

Insulation is a general term used to describe any type of material creating a barrier between the surfaces of adjacent bodies, that stops the transmission of heat, sound, electricity, and moisture. For the purpose of this article, we’re going to talk about thermal insulation.

In basic terms, thermal insulation is what keeps your coffee hot in an insulated mug and your hands warm in gloves.

How heat flows

To understand how insulation works, it is first necessary to explain the different ways heat flows.

Heat moves naturally in three ways, conduction, convection, and radiation. Physically, heat always moves from areas of high temperature to those at a lower temperature, which is why, in the cold external temperatures of winter, the warmth inside a building will try to escape through walls, windows, roof and floor.

What is Insulation and how does it work


Conduction is the transmission of heat through solids, liquids, and gases from a hot body to a cooler one (or from the hot part of an object to a cooler part) through direct contact.

For example, if you touch a hot plate you can feel the heat feel the heat moving into your body.  This is called conduction, and it happens whenever hot things touch cooler ones.


Convection occurs in gases and liquids when heat is transferred by the hotter material moving into a cooler area.

For example, if a hot surface is in contact with cooler air, heat is conducted to the air. This air then becomes warmer and therefore less dense than the adjacent cooler air. The warmer, lighter air rises upwards and is replaced by cooler air, causing a continuous flow of air by natural convection – gradually removing heat from the hot surface to the air.


Radiation is the process of heat transfer through electromagnetic waves from a ‘hot’ surface to a ‘cold’ surface through air.

Radiant energy moves through space without heating anything in between – the energy is only absorbed when its path is blocked by an object which absorbs the energy and converts it to heat. The most common example of is radiant heat from the sun, which travels millions of miles through space, and only has any effect when it is blocked by an object such as a building.

How Does Insulation Work?

Insulation is a thermally resistant barrier which prevents the movement of thermal energy into and out of the house. In simple terms: Insulation helps increase the energy efficiency of your home by blocking heat from entering the home in the summer and keeping heat in during the winter. It’s that simple and it really works.

Insulation is so effective that its cost is often paid for through energy savings in less than a year…and with the rising cost of electricity, savings may come even sooner!

How Does Insulation Work

Insulation types and their applications

Insulation products come in two main categories; bulk and reflective, which are sometimes combined into a composite material.

  • Bulk insulation mainly resists the transfer heat, by trapping air in still pockets within its structure.

Bulk insulation includes materials such as glass wool, wool, cellulose fibre, polyester, and polystyrene.

Bulk insultion

  • Reflective insulation mainly resists radiant heat flow due to its high reflectivity and low emissivity.

Reflective insulation is usually shiny aluminium foil laminated onto paper or plastic and is available as sheets (sarking), concertina-type batts and multi-cell batts. Together these products are known as reflective foil laminates, or RFL.

Reflective insulation

Choosing insulation

To compare the insulating ability of the products available, we need to look at their R-value, which measures resistance to heat flow. The higher the R-value, the higher the level of insulation.

When choosing the type of insulation, you need to consider the following in addition to the R-value:

  • The price per square metre
  • Must it be installed professionally, or can it be DIY?
  • Will the material fit within the space available?
  • Life cycle costs
  • Where will the insulation be installed, in the roof, floor or wall?

Additionally compare the environmental benefits of different products. Ask about recycled content and how easily the product can be recycled after use. For example, some brands of glass wool, polyester and cellulose fibre insulation contain significant amounts of recycled material.

Types of House Insulation Materials

There are three major types of insulation used in homes: foam, fiberglass, and cellulose.

1. Foam insulation

Foam insulation comes in two different forms, which are spray and injection foam.

  • Spray foam is sprayed in an open cavity, like in new construction, attics, crawl spaces, rim joists, and pole barns, in a liquid state. The spray foam then expands and fills the cavity.
  • Injection foam is pumped into an existing cavity, like walls, which makes it great for insulating existing homes.

Spray foam can be either open cell or closed cell foam insulation.

  • Open cell spray foam is very light and pliable due to its composition. As open cell foam dries, the gas inside the cells escapes through openings in the cell’s wall resulting in foam that is light and pliable that shifts as it settles.
  • Closed cell spray foam is a much more dense and heavy composition. It creates a dense surface that is more resistant to weathering and temperature change.

2. Fiberglass insulation

Fiberglass comes in batts and rolls. It can be placed in unfinished walls, floors, attics, and ceilings. Fiberglass insulation is fitted between studs, joists, and beams.

3. Cellulose Insulation

Cellulose can be either loose-fill or blown-in. It is best used in enclosed existing walls or open new wall cavities. Cellulose insulation can also be used in unfinished attic floors.

In Summary

Whether you are looking for roof insulation, underfloor insulation, or acoustic wall insulation, choosing the right product for your application is important.

No matter your needs, you can trust Econ Insulation to provide you with the most advanced, customized solutions, for new construction insulation, home remodelling insulation and more.

Whether you want to learn more about what insulation is or how insulation works, or if you need to hire a local insulation company in South Africa , contact Eco Insulation today!


Why should you insulate your home?

Regardless of where you live in South Africa, we all have to contend with varying and sometimes extreme weather conditions, with Cape Town being no exception! With a reputation for hosting four different seasons in one day, regardless of what time of the year it is, our city is known for having some crazy cold and wet days in the winter, and even more unpleasant windy days in the summer—not to mention that our summers are extending well into the winter calendar, and vice versa.

When weather conditions become increasingly volatile and swing from one extreme to another, what is the best way to keep a comfortable temperature in your home? While using air conditioners and heaters guarantees a quick solution, who can afford to pay inflated Eskom prices these days?

We spend the majority of our lives indoor, why is it then that we feel the winter cold more than Americans and Europeans? How did we end up literally paying for harsher indoor seasons? More importantly, how can we stop paying for them while enjoying more comfortable homes?

The answer: improved home insulation as a result of South Africa’s epidemic of inadequate (or non-existent) home insulation.

So, why is insulation so important for your home?

While home insulation is almost universal in America and Europe, South African homeowners are often surprised to learn that a well-insulated home is the key to lower electricity bills, and that their home is poorly insulated in the first place    .

winter heat loss summer heat gains








Fortunately, improving your home’s insulation is simpler and more affordable than most people think. In fact, the typical home recoups the insulation costs within 5-6 years, in the form of 40-50% lower heating and cooling bills.

Now who would not like to keep their home comfortable all year round and save at the same time?

What is home Insulation?

Left to themselves, houses don’t trap much heat or cold inside them. In fact, quite a significant amount of heat can easily escape through your walls, ceilings, and windows in winter - or, conversely, enter your home in summer.

A regular home loses on average. 

  • 35% of its energy through the ceiling
  • 25% through the walls (depending on the type of construction)
  • 20% through the floors
  • 10% through the windows
  • 10% via Air gaps.

Insulation prevents this by slowing down heat loss in winter and heat gains though:

  1. Bulk Insulation (thick layers of dense materials that trap air inside your home)
  2. Foil Insulation (reflective layers that bounce heat back to its source)

Both methods slow down your home’s transfer of heat so that you don’t have to use heaters or air conditioners as much (and when you do, you don’t need to run them as long) to maintain a comfortable indoor temperature. In this way, insulation acts as a blanket for your home.

How does insulation work?

To understand how insulation works it helps to understand heat flow, which involves three basic mechanisms:

  • Conduction: Is the way heat moves through materials.
  • Convection: Is the way heat circulates through liquids and gases, and is why lighter, warmer air rises, and cooler, denser air sinks in your home.
  • Radiation: Radiant heat travels in a straight line and heats anything solid in its path that absorbs its energy.

Insulation works by counteracting air’s natural tendency to move from warm areas towards colder areas,  by reducing the transfer of heat.  This means that during the winter months, insulation prevents cold air from coming into your home through the ceilings or walls. By reducing heat flow, insulation helps keep the living spaces in your home cooler in summer and warmer in winter, reducing the need for artificial heating and cooling.

Insulation used in buildings works as a barrier to hinder the movement of heat in or out of the living areas. This makes well insulated buildings more energy efficient, making them cheaper to run which is also good for the environment.


An insulating material’s resistance to conductive heat flow is measured or rated in terms of its thermal resistance or R-value -- the higher the R-value, the greater the insulating effectiveness. The R-value depends on the type of insulation, its thickness, and its density.

Installing more insulation in your home increases the R-value and the resistance to heat flow. In general, increased insulation thickness will proportionally increase the R-value.

 What are the benefits of home insulation?

Compared to the same home without insulation, a properly insulated home result in:

  • 70% less energy needed for heating and cooling (and thus a decreased carbon footprint)
  • 40-50% reduction of average annual heating + cooling costs
  • Up to 10 degrees cooler home in summer
  • Greater Comfort; warmer, cosier home in winter
  • Full payback in 5-6 years
  • Improved respiratory health
  • Lower energy bills
  • Reduced reliance on aircon and heating units
  • Improve the value of your home
  • Prevents moisture condensations
  • Fire resistance and Fire protection
  • Acoustic benefits
  • Environmentally friendly

Where Can You Install Insulation?

When it comes to installing insulation, it can be done in probably more place than you think.

In addition to walls and attics, insulation should be installed in ceilings with unheated spaces, basement walls, floors above vented crawl spaces, floors over unheated garages or porches, knee walls, and in between interior walls, as well as ceilings and floors.

The goal is to create a consistent wrap around the home, a “thermal envelope,” with no penetrations.

Generally speaking, it is done in three key areas of your property.

  • Underfloor Insulation

A surprising amount of air can escape through your floors, a well-insulated underfloor greatly contributes to the thermal efficiency of your home.

  • Wall Insulation

Wall insulation is the process of inserting insulating materials between layers of brick or timber that make up a wall.

  • Ceiling Insulation

Ceiling insulation creates a heat flow barrier between your roof tiles and ceiling boards, by preventing heat from passing through whether it from the sun on your roof or from the inside of your room.

In summary

The bottom line is Insulation is a cost-effective and energy-saving way to insulate your home.

Whether you are renovating, building, or replacing your old insulation, there is an appropriate insulation option for your needs. Consider what you need, where you are located, and what type of insulation would suit you best.

Consult with a professional builder or installer before doing any insulation installations in your home.

Roof Insulation: A homeowner’s Introduction

Home is where the heart is, but a house without insulation can be an uncomfortable place to live.

We all want to be cool in summer, and warm in winter, but we live in a country known for its extreme temperature fluctuations. It can go as high as 45 Degrees Celsius  in the day and as low as minus 10  0 degrees at night.

With sky-rocketing electricity cost, not to mention continued load shedding , as a homeowner how are you supposed to keep your home at a constant temperature and energy efficient?

In this article we’ll be briefly touch on the different types of insulation materials, what they are made from and how each one can benefit your home. More importantly we will provide you questions to pose to any insulation company and expert, even a Builders Warehouse Roof Insulation sales person.

What types of insulation are there?

You can choose to insulate your roof, floors, walls, windows, and doors.

The most important thing is the walls since for a typical house the walls will lose around 30 to 40 per cent of the heat.

The roof comes in second place, accounting for approximately 25% of heat loss. Then comes windows and doors with 20% and finally, the floor.

In this article we will only look at roof insulation.

What Is Home Roof Insulation?

Insulation is defined as a material used to insulate something, especially a building.

Basically, insulation is material used that reduces heat loss or heat gain by providing a barrier between the inside of your home and the significantly different temperature outside.

Roof insulation is specially designed for homes and offices and is available in many forms. From standard blankets to the chemical miracle of spray foams, it’s a field with many options, and each one has its place in a building.

It’s essential to make sure you brace your home or office building against the elements, hot or cold.

Types of House Insulation Materials

There are three major types of insulation used in homes: foam, fiberglass, and cellulose.

  1. Foam insulation

Foam insulation comes in two different forms, which are spray and injection foam.

  • Spray foam is sprayed in an open cavity, like in new construction, attics, crawl spaces, rim joists, and pole barns, in a liquid state. The spray foam then expands and fills the cavity.
  • Injection foam is pumped into an existing cavity, like walls, which makes it great for insulating existing homes.

Spray foam can be either open cell or closed cell foam insulation.

  • Open cell spray foam is very light and pliable due to its composition. As open cell foam dries, the gas inside the cells escapes through openings in the cell’s wall resulting in foam that is light and pliable that shifts as it settles.
  • Closed cell spray foam is a much more dense and heavy composition. It creates a dense surface that is more resistant to weathering and temperature change.
  1. Fiberglass insulation

Fiberglass comes in batts and rolls. It can be placed in unfinished walls, floors, attics, and ceilings. Fiberglass insulation is fitted between studs, joists, and beams.

  1. Cellulose Insulation

Cellulose can be either loose-fill or blown-in. It is best used in enclosed existing walls or open new wall cavities. Cellulose insulation can also be used in unfinished attic floors.

What is the roof insulation made of?

Not all home insulation materials are made up of the same ingredients.

a.      Foam Insulation

Foam insulation  is made from a tri-polymer blend dry powder resin. As the resin mixes with a foaming agent and water, it transforms into Foam insulation. Much like injection foam, spray foam insulation has the same shaving cream consistency when it is sprayed.

b.      Fiberglass Insulation

Fiberglass insulation is made of plastic reinforced by tiny glass fibres. This composition gives the plastic additional strength while improving its insulation capacity.

c.       Cellulose Insulation

Cellulose insulation is made up of 75 to 85 percent recycled paper fibre – usually post-consumer waste newsprint. The other 15 percent is a fire retardant such as boric acid or ammonium sulphate.

Making An Informed Decision

  1. R-Value

The first thing you need to know about insulation is what the R-value means.

The R-value of any insulation product measures its resistance to heat flow. The higher the R-value it has, the greater the insulation’s effectiveness and power.

As mentioned above, there are several types of insulation available in the marketplace. When it comes to residential applications, cellulose and fiberglass blankets  are both standard and common types of insulation. Depending on certain factors such as your budget, geographical location, and R-value desire, other factors to consider include:

  • Resistance to settling
  • Thermal performance
  • Fire safety
  • Permanence
  • Moisture resistance
  • environmental impact
  • Health effects/risks
  • Local building codes
  • Expense
  • Life span
  1. The Roof.

Before deciding on the best type of Roof Insulation consider the following:

  • Is it a flat or a pitched roof?
  • What’s the overall condition of the roof?

Before any sort of work begins on the roof, it first needs to be assessed for any leaks, issues with damp or structural problems, and see if it requires any roof repair. This will help identify any problems or obstacles early, so that they don’t take unnecessary time and expense to deal with later.

  • When’s the roof being replaced?
  • Whether to insulate a pitched roof at ceiling level or rafter level

If you’re dealing with a pitched roof, you’ll want to ask yourself this question quite early on. Do you want to use the loft space as a living area or not? if it’s destined for use as a bedroom, home office or other functional room, rafter level insulation is preferable, whereas if it’s just being used for storage - or not being used at all - insulating at ceiling level can help save on unnecessary cost.

  • How easily is the roof space accessible?
  • What kind of insulation will you use?

For both types of roofs, you’ve essentially got a choice between two options: warm or cold insulation.

Pitched roof.

Cold loft insulation - often just referred to by default as loft insulation, this is the cheapest and simplest of roof insulations. It involves the insulation being placed over and between the wooden joists, above the ceiling of the property’s top floor. This keeps the heat safely contained inside the living areas of the property, but don’t forget that it leaves the actual loft space uninsulated, which means it varies through the extremes of heat and cold throughout summer and winter.

Warm loft insulation - if cold loft insulation is unsuitable because the loft space is actively in use (rather than just used for storage or something similar), then you’re left with warm loft insulation. This involves installing the insulation directly under the roof, in the plane of the roof’s pitch.

Flat roof

There are a few options with flat roof:

Warm deck or warm roof - this involves the insulation being installed above the roof deck (the panel beneath the roofing material, which is generally made of wood).

Cold deck or cold roof - here, the insulation is installed below the roof deck and its associated joists.

c.       Can I insulate my loft myself?

It’s possible (in fact quite simple) to lay roof insulation yourself, as long as:

  • It’s easy to get into your roof space.
  • There are no damp or condensation problems.
  • Your loft joists are regularly spaced.
  • You’re not trying to insulate a flat roof.

For anything more complicated than this, you’ll need to be an experienced DIY-er or bring in a professional installer who knows how to insulate a loft in the most appropriate and effective way.

Flat roofs should always be insulated by a professional, and if the space is damp you’ll need to sort that out before starting any loft insulation work.

As far as insulation material goes you have 2 choices.

1. Loose fill

Insulation fibres are packaged in bags and blown in place to the desired depth and density using special machinery you can rent from a home centre. You can pour the fill in place and spread it manually, but the process is much more labour-intensive, and the results won't be nearly as good.

It works best for:

  • Attics with irregular or nonstandard joist spacing.
  • Attics with lots of obstructions and penetrations to work around.
  • Attics where there is existing insulation to be topped since it fills gaps and joints well.
  • Low-clearance attics with limited headroom for manoeuvring during installation
  • DIYers who want to get the job done quickly and are comfortable working with power equipment.

Insulation material options:

  • Fiberglass
  • Cellulose
  • Mineral wool

2. Rolls or Blankets

This flexible insulation material is most often packaged in rolls that come in various thicknesses and standard widths, usually 40 cm and 60 cm, to fit between joists or studs in a house's framing.

They work best for:

  • Attics with standard joist spacing, especially those with no insulation.
  • Attics with few obstructions or penetrations to work around.
  • Attics with sufficient headroom for manoeuvring during installation
  • DIYers who don't mind cutting the material to fit around obstructions.

Insulation material options:

  • Fiberglass
  • Cellulose
  • Mineral wool
  • Cotton
  1. Important Questions to Ask Your Insulation Contractor and Builders Warehouse salesperson.
  • Are you a licensed installer?

Depending on the product, the contractor may need a license. For example, loose-fill fiberglass cellulose or batt insulation require no specialized licensing while spray foam requires an exclusive license.

  • How long have you been in business?

In general, it takes approximately 10,000 hours to master a trade – that is the equivalent of five-years on the job. Eliminate any contractors with less than five years of experience because they haven’t learned the insulation trade.

  • What warranty or guarantee do you provide for your insulation?

Warranties for renovation projects are two-stage documents. One covers the labour performed in the installation process, and the other warranty comes from the product manufacturer.

  • Do you carry liability insurance and worker’s comp insurance?
  • What type of insulation products do you offer?
  • What type of insulation do you recommend, and why?

Any contractor worth his or her salt will be able to extoll the virtues of the different insulation products on the market. An accurate assessment of the pros and cons of each product should be an essential part of the presentation.

  • How long will the work take and how much will it cost?

The time to complete the job and costs are listed in the estimate that you should receive free of charge from the contractor.

  • Will you be making improvements?

Depending on the necessity, air sealing can be required to extract the maximum result from your new attic insulation. Most insulation contractors are capable of making the improvements your home will need – if not, ask who can.

Contact us for all your roof insulation needs.

Every home improvement project succeeds when the right party is hired for the work. Your insulation contractor choice is crucial to the project and getting the most out of home improvement rands.

At Eco-Insulation, we have a consultation ready when you call our office today at +27 (0)860 105 231   to discuss the particulars of your project. To get an estimate, please fill out our online form, and we will respond in 24 hours.

School Fitout to Build

Can we have green schools?

The greening of schools offers a unique opportunity to address these issues
and is an extraordinarily cost-effective way to enhance student learning,
reduce health and operational costs and, ultimately, increase quality argues
the Green Building Council of South Africa (GBCSA).

Pictures by: Gareth Griffiths Imaging

In the commercial property sector, green buildings have lower operating costs, are more efficient, futureproofed, provide a higher rate of return on investment and have been shown to promote wellness, healing
and productivity.

To Build magazine recently spoke to insulation retrofitting business, Eco-Cape, about some school projects they’ve been involved with.

According to insulation installer, Richard Ellis, the situation at the Durbanville Preparatory School was Brain Wilkinson typical of many public infrastructure buildings in South Africa. Originally built during times of cheap power  supply, scant attention was given to thermal/energy efficient building under tight construction budgets. ‘Solving the school’s problem of excessive and expensive electricity consumption of air conditioners lay in reducing reliance on active temperature control interventions during seasonal temperature extremes. It also meant preparing for possible load shedding, very much part of the South Africa’s future given the cutbacks on Eskom’s planned infrastructure upgrade spend this year as the grid nears capacity,’ Ellis explains.

Positive outcomes came from this forward planning. ‘Award-winning ceiling insulation, Eco-Insulation, was recently installed under the roof, covering an important area of the school’s ceiling,’ he adds. ‘Schools are increasingly seeing the benefits of going green through energy and water saving initiatives in the face of spiralling utility costs,’ notes Brian Wilkinson, CEO of the Green Building Council of SA (GBCSA). ‘However, there’s a lot more that can be done and schools must be educated about the benefits.’

The start of the New Year is a time that many schools face the stark reality of a lack of funding and infrastructure problems, often with a bigger number of learners to cater for.


‘This is an opportune time for school leaders and governing bodies to look more seriously at the benefits of green initiatives. While the main benefit may be cost savings, there are other positive outcomes, including promoting ‘going green’ to learners in their formative years. Like businesses in our primary market – the commercial property sector – financial management has become a key responsibility for school principals, staff, and governing bodies who, at times, have very few options at their disposal,’ Wilkinson adds.

Research and reports on the state of schools in the country reveal a lack of funding, poor infrastructure, inadequate equipment and often the dire state of school property, buildings and playgrounds.

Via a recent domestic residential energy saving project, the GBCSA demonstrated how an astronomical R18 000 saving in utility costs (the bulk of which was electricity) was achieved at an average family home in Pinelands, Cape Town, that undertook a green makeover.

‘Imagine that R18 000 in the life of a poorly resourced South African school,’ suggests Wilkinson.

Above: The Durbanville

Preparatory School: an energy efficiency retrofit

Left: A classroom at St Cyprians school for girls. Eco-Insulation was retrofitted there following a refurb of the school by Noero Wolff Architects and specified by Riverside Consulting, quantity surveryors.

‘Via our green network, we have found that there are green solutions that schools can implement to help them tackle their pressing budgetary needs. The benefits go beyond savings on utility costs at schools. Positive lessons the learners get to absorb through their exposure to green alternatives at school creates an all-round win-win situation. Green initiatives should be implemented at even more schools countrywide. In particular, public schools need to be empowered to be able to implement such initiatives, as many grapple with the dilemma of reducing their operating costs. ‘As part of our mandate to not only promote green building development and innovation, but also sustainable development, our team engages with the commercial property sector as well as public services. Many schools are already seeing the benefits of their green initiatives,’ Wilkinson points out.

In Wilkinson’s opinion, the GBCSA’s key motivator and initiative is the fight against global warming, climate change and the effects that each of these have on the planet. However, it does not begin and end with the commercial property sector. Schools and centres of learning should be encouraged and assisted to provide prime opportunities for their inhabitants to not only do well academically but also to benefit environmental sustainability.

T: +27 086 104 2272
T: +27 0860 105 231

Insulation installers to be certfied

The industry association for insulation manufacturers and has announced a new trade registration
opportunity for installers, which should give clients considerable peace of mind.

The Thermal Insulation Products and Systems Association of South Africa  (TIPSASA) has announced the official registration of the trade qualification ‘Insulation Installer with the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA). The qualification consists of two parts: building insulation installer and industrial insulation installer.

According to TIPSASA, this is the first time ever in South Africa that the insulation installer will be recognized as an official trade.

TIPSASA is in the process of registering with SAQA to become a professional body. One of the requirements for registration as a professional body with the SAQA, is to have qualification registered with that body. In addition evidence of consultation with the construction sector regarding an application for recognition is required by SAQA.

Feedback from the construction sector were all positive and in favour of the registration. To quote a few of the replies: ‘ We fully support the registration of TIPSASA as a professional body’, I believe this is an excellent and worthy cause towards improving the status of TIPSASA and its members’, and , ‘We declare our unqualified support for your cause’.

It is evident that TIPSASA have the support of the construction sector andb a high level of recognition for their contribution towards the industry.

Skills Development Providers (SDP’S) are in the process of registering for accreditation with the Quality Council for Trades & Occupations (QCTO). Learner material has already been developed in collaboration with SDPs.

Official training courses will commence in February 2020.

This is an exciting development for TIPSASA, and the industry will undoubtedly benefit from these trade qualifications.


Existing insulation contractors

As a result of the registration of the Insulation Installer qualification, TIPSASA would like to extend an invitation to existing contractors to become ‘Accredited Insulation Contractors’. Contractors would have to be assessed through the RPL process. The Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) is a process through which formal, non-formal and informal learning are measured, mediated for recognition across different contexts and certified against the requirements for credit, access, inclusion or advancement in the formal education and training system or workplace.


The establishment of Accredited Insulation Contractors will address the usage of sub-standard products that do not comply with SABS standards and incorrect installations, i.e. failure to comply with manufacturer’s installation specification, which are two of the main reasons for failure of thermal insulation performance and compliance with the Energy Efficiency Regulations Promulgated in 2011.

To Build contacted a national insulation manufacturer and installer based in Cape Town for comment. Richard Ellis, general manager and holder of the Cape Town installer franchise for Eco Insulation, had the following to say in support of the TIPSASA move:

‘l congratulate TIPSASA in achieving  the registration of the Insulation Installer qualification. We in the industry are deeply encouraged, as too often the quality of insulation installs is found to be sub-standard; in particular in the area of new multi-residential housing developments where the insulation has been  not been fitted by a recognized insulation contractor but rather by a ceiling contractor. The insulation installations are sp poorly done as to render the whole solution ineffective. Commonly there is little attention to the risks of recessed lighting fixtures where no proper protectors are fitted to prevent the insulation coming into contact with the lighting units which can pose a serious fire hazard’.

We asked Ellis how far the problem extends. He confirmed that installers in his group get frequent callouts to sites where the existing insulation installations of generic products have been inexpertly laid in contravention of the requirements of the building codes.

‘Often this inexpert practice goes two ways: the non-functioning of insulation product completely, requiring a complete overlay of our product to bring the thermal performance of the roof envelop up to national standard SANS 10400-XA requirements.’

The second and more serious consequences of an inexpert installation of ceiling insulation, according to Ellis, is when the contractor fails to make allowance for the heat emitted by in-ceiling downlighters, especially of the halogen quartz variety.

‘Your installed product must be well clear of downlights, allowing them to vent heat currently. Another error is where there is a roofing timber member close by, which greatly increases the fire hazard is heat is not ducted away from the light,’ he finishes.

Energy Saving Tips

In addition to insulating your home, here are a few additional tips to assist you to reduce your enviromental footprint and save energy.

Please close the door

Keeping internal doors closed in winter ensures you are heating smaller areas making heaters more effective.

Seal the gaps

Check around your windows and doors for any gaps. Insulating strips for your windows and doors are inexpensive and can be fitted in minutes helping you to retain heat in winter.

Shield your Home from the sun

Reduce the use of air conditioning by closing curtains and blinds on the sunny side of your home.

Landscape for Shade

Shade sunny windows and walls naturally by planting deciduous trees. Retractable awnings are also very effective at keeping your home cooler in summer.

Switch to LEDs

LED light bulbs use 90 percent less energy than incandescent bulbs. Switch out the most widely used bulbs in your home. Then, replace the rest as they burn out.

Install Dimmer Switches

When you fit dimmer switches, you use only as much light as you need.

Line Dry Your Laundry

Use a clothesline in your backyard and let Mother Nature dry your laundry instead of running an energy sapping tumble dryer.

Upgrade to Energy Star appliances

Are your appliances older than ten years, when you do consider replacement then look to do this with Energy Star models, these use considerably less energy.

Install low-flow shower heads

Less water flowing through your shower head means less water to heat and less water used!

Keep your fridge and freezer Full

Keeping your fridge & freezer full means they don't have to work as hard and therefore they use less energy. Empty space in your fridge or freezer wastes not only space but energy too.

Install ceiling fans

Keep the air circulating in your home, and your air- conditioner won't have to work as hard.

Schedule annual air-conditioner maintenance

Have your air-conditioners checked and cleaned annually to keep them running efficiently and you will also enjoy cleaner air!

Only wash full loads

Lots of electricity is consumed by your washing machine and dishwasher, washing with full loads will help to minimize the power drain.

Lower the temperature on your geyser

Around 12% of a home's electricity is used to heat water. You can lower this percentage by setting your geyser thermostat lower (for optimal geyser efficiency you should set your thermostat to 50°C in summer and 60°C in winter).
Also fit a geyser blanket and reduce heat loss. Remember to lag two meters of the outlet pipe for even greater efficiency.

Switch off your oven

Turn off the oven 10-15 minutes before cooking time runs out. Your food will continue to cook without using the extra electricity.

Don't put uncovered foods & drinks in the refrigerator

Condensation makes the fridge work harder and costs you more money.

Allow foods to cool before putting them in the refrigerator

Placing hot foods in your fridge will increase the interior temperature, and cause your refrigerator to work harder.

Cook with the lids on

Foods cook faster with the lid on the pot, because the heat can't escape and you then waste less energy when cooking.


Use Your Microwave Instead of the Oven

A microwave uses less electricity then a conventional electric stove and releases less heat into your home.


Slay the vampires

Vampire power or phantom load is working behind the scenes to consume energy even when your appliances are turned off.  This “Standby Power” refers to the energy drawn down by an appliance when it’s not in use. By turning off appliances at the wall, you will reduce your electricity consumption.

Shower Power

Shower rather than bathing. Also take shorter showers, this does more than just save water – it saves energy, too.

Cut the lights

Switch lights off when you’re not in the room to save up to 15% on your energy bill.

Tea for two

Making a cup of tea? Only fill the kettle with as much water as you need.