Saving energy on your heating can save you money on your bills and also decrease your carbon footprint. A helpful way to assess the efficiency of doors, windows, walls and what insulation you may wish to use can be the U and R values attributed to the product. They describe the transfer of energy in the form of heat, very helpful if you’re looking to make your house heat efficient! Here’s a short guide on how to make the most of these details.
The U value is a term that is often used to grade windows and doors although it can also be applied to walls, floors and ceilings. The U value gives an indication of the effective level of insulation that is being provided by measuring the amount of heat energy that is able to escape. Therefore a lower U value is preferable as it shows that less heat is escaping. This means that energy bills for the property will be lower as less energy will be required to heat the property as it will all be used effectively. Features such as double glazing for windows will help to lower the U Value. A single glazed window may typically have a U Value of 4.8 compared to a U Value of 3.1 for a double glazed window.
The R value also measures the insulation value of materials but instead of measuring the energy that can escape as in the U Value, the R Value indicates the level of resistance in the material to heat energy flowing through it. This means that materials which are graded with a high R Value will offer a high level of resistance and provide effective insulation to the property. This again will have a direct and beneficial impact on energy bills as retaining heat energy within the property will result in less energy being needed.
How to use U and R Values
Although paying attention to either U or R values will help aid the effective use of heat energy, it is important to look at both values together in order to make a real difference to the property. High R Values will not help a property which may be subject to high winds and temperature changes as they only measure conduction of heat. It is therefore vital to ensure that all doors and windows have low U Values and high R values wherever possible. These values combined with high R values for cavity wall insulation will create a heat efficient home that will be cheaper to heat and much more ecologically friendly.
Suppliers that produce their own products will normally list the relevant R and U values and this should be checked before making a decision on purchasing. The popular chain store B&Q sells items like loft insulation with the R and U values listed on their site, though I don’t know how prominent that would be in their shops. If you can’t find exact details on a product page then check for potential FAQs or additional information on the site. In the case of bifold door maker Vufold you can find the details on their U values on a specific page that outlines their product details. If you can’t find the information you’re looking for then I’d advise getting in touch with the business, who should be able to get you what you need. Increased awareness from eco-aware consumers has improved the amount of relevant information available but you can always let a company know if you wish they were doing more.
The Building Regulations 2010 and the New Building Regulations 2011 quote maximum allowed levels for the values and it is also worth checking that your manufacturer or supplier is a member of TIMSA. This is the Thermal Insulation Manufacturers and Suppliers Association and further details can be found on their website. With all this information then you can be sure that you’re getting the most efficient external doors and windows possible.
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