Insulating Residential Masonry Buildings in Cold Climates

March/April 2010
A version of this article appears in the March/April 2010 issue of Home Energy Magazine.
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March 01, 2010
Most professionals now agree that masonry buildings in cold climates should be insulated. Here's how it's done.
While there are still some professionals who question the practice, or think that it is unnecessary, most professionals agree that in cold climates, a masonry residential building should be insulated. Over the years, as insulation products and installation techniques have improved, building owners and professionals have voiced concern about damage to masonry in existing structures in cold climates, and indoor air quality (IAQ) and mold growth in all climates. There are good reasons to insulate a residential building in cold climates. Well installed insulation saves money on energy; it increases occupant comfort; and it reduces our dependence on fossil fuel—which lessens the building’s impact on the environment and reduces the chance of war. Insulating a building is one critical part of the entire-system approach to making buildings that are energy efficient—an approach that must also include well-designed mechanical systems and wise management of light, heat, air, water vapor, and liquid water within the enclosure. All these things are interrelated—so interrelated that it is difficult to talk about insulation separately. But insulation deserves its day in the sun. Learning how to insulate masonry structures properly has informed the aesthetics of my work, as ...

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