Fortunately, the question of heat insulation is by no means a marginal issue among housing renovators and builders – the motivations include a feeling of comfort, an increase in the value of the property due to a better energetics classification, or the tightening building energetics regulations after 31 December 2020. So according to what criteria and in possession of what information do consumers and experts decide on insulation materials and solutions? A survey which has just been completed looked into this.
By 20 May, more than 1300 had filled in the Association of Hungarian EPS Insulation Manufacturers’ (MEPS) questionnaires, with which the professional organisation surveyed the habits, expectations and preferences of consumers and experts with respect to heat insulation, as well as their knowledge of changing regulations. The non-representative survey launched in the context of the energy efficiency information campaign entitled “Insulate for tomorrow!” was taken between 1 April and 20 May.
Energy saving and overheads reduction is attractive
More than half of the consumer respondents (1150 persons) are planning to insulate their homes within five years. The need for energy saving was marked by the respondents as the most important criterion for renovation, though scarcely falling behind this was the intention to reduce overhead costs, and in third place was the desire for modernisation. Of the insulation planners or the respondents who had installed insulation in recent years, most (38.1%) would insulate the roof or the facade (37.8%), or already have, insulation of the footing came in third place (10.2%). Of modernisation carried out or planned besides heat insulation, roof replacement came in first place (32.3%), this being followed by replacement of doors and windows (26.6%). According to the evidence of the “Other” answers given to the question concerning enegetics modernisation, Hungarian consumers are particularly concerned with installing solar cells.
So what is this regulation about?
Among preferred heat insulation materials, polystyrene is particularly popular: 43% of consumers questioned choose this material, of which almost half of the respondents (45%) considered 10-15 cm thick facade insulation to be appropriate. Surprisingly, however, more than a third of the respondents would settle for insulation of just 5-10 cm in thickness, and only 14.7% thought it was necessary to provide a building with heat insulation of 15-20 cm in thickness. This latter solution would comply with the tightening building energetics regulations after 2020, of which scarcely more than one half of the respondents had heard; though a total of 8% of them consider themselves to be affected by its application.
Among the 160 experts filling in the MEPS questionnaire, likewise polystyrene (with particular regard to graphite EPS) proved to be the most popular insulation material: the easy availability and energy efficiency of this were highlighted by designers and contractors primarily. Almost all the experts who replied were aware of the tightening of building energetics regulations, and the change also affects at least one tenth of the jobs in progress of 80% of the respondents. In spite of this, only one in two respondents considered his own knowledge of the subject to be satisfactory, and would deem more thorough information to be necessary in this area.
And the centimetres do count
The opinions of the experts who replied are divided with respect to what changes need to be effectuated during construction in order to comply with the new building energetics regulations: 80% agreed that more efficient insulation will be prominent in the coming years, but in order to achieve the proper building energetics level, 42% of those completing the questionnaire considered a comprehensive rethinking of the configuration of every structural component to be necessary. This was followed by the selection of more efficient insulation materials and thickness, then the use of renewable energy sources.
To the specific question as to what thickness of white polystyrene facade insulation they considered necessary for a B30 brick wall, 44% of the experts ticked 15-20 cm – this is enough even for a building with close to zero energy consumption, i.e. for close to half the experts, the information is sufficient for planning according to the regulations. 28.9% went even further: They recommended a thickness of 20-30 cm for the given conditions, and only 15.1% considered the use of 10-15 cm to be sufficient. For conformity to the stricter regulations, for the same wall 42% of the respondents recommended 20-30 cm, and 25.8% considered 15-20 cm thick white polystyrene insulation to be suitable for the purpose; on the other hand, 18.2% of the specialists who completed the questionnaire saw 30-40 cm thickness as guarantee for the proper building energetics level, which is over the top according to experts.
The season is upon us
So both specialists and the population are concerned about heat insulation. To bring the issue up to date, the approaching hot weather is not only the season for holidays, but also for construction, and when renovating housing, it is also the time to eliminate problems current during winter – for instance, a cold flat, damp walls or floor, mould – i.e. updating insulation. Those who take care of updating insulation in summer are making a wise decision, as it is much more difficult and expensive to do insulation jobs in autumn and winter because of the cold, damp weather, and furthermore the property owner will not save a penny on heating costs. Both for making decisions related to heat insulation and for the new building energetics regulations, the constantly updated website Insulate for tomorrow! can provide useful pointers.
Which part of your house would you insulate first?
According to the specialists questioned…
What thickness of insulation do you consider necessary?
Founded in 1997, the Masterplast group is one of the leading building material producer and distributor companies in the Central Eastern European region. The company group owns subsidiaries in 10 countries, and sells products in a further 30 countries. The company is registered in the premium category on the Budapest Stock Exchange, and had revenue of 201,8 million euros in 2022.