Home renovations blog: How to use thermal mass

By the resi financial blog team, 07 January 2015

Home renovations blog: How to use thermal mass

It's common misconception that fluffy things like curtains, rugs and carpets make a house warmer, while materials like stone, tile and brick can make an area cold. There is actually a way to use these 'cold' materials to increase the energy efficiency of your home when you renovate.

What is thermal mass?

According to YourHome, an initiative of the Department of Industry and Science, brick, concrete and tile are 'cold' because they have a higher thermal mass. What this essentially means is that because these items are dense and take a long time to heat up, they store that energy and release it slowly when the environment cools down.

There is, however, a difference between having a high thermal mass and being a good insulator. Generally they are mutually exclusive, in other words, building materials that have a high thermal mass are good at absorbing and releasing heat, but are not good at insulating a room.  YourHome states that insulation prevents heat entering or exiting a room, while thermal mass acts as a battery for heat storage and use.

How can you use thermal mass in your home design?

Thermal mass is not a cure-all that can be applied to every part of the house. It needs to be used in conjunction with other materials, such as insulation, where appropriate to create the most energy efficient home.

A good passive design will make use of thermal mass in areas where it can be affected by solar or wind energy, while using insulation in other parts of the home. For example, tiles in areas with high exposure to sunlight will absorb heat during the day and release it at night when the weather cools, while carpet and underlay in the lounge will keep a more even temperature throughout the day and night.

The goal with any energy efficient design is to use materials to best effect and save power usage in the long run. If you're considering a more sustainable approach to your renovations, you should have a chat with a resi loan specialist - they'll be able to help you assess your ability to fund your improvements through refinancing or other options.

Categories: Home Loans