The word “thermal bridging” is often used in building construction and energy economy, but many people don’t know what it means. Thermal bridging happens when heat moves through the building shell along a path that is more conductive than the insulation. Even though thermal bridging isn’t very well known, it can have a big effect on a building’s energy efficiency, comfort inside, and even its strength. Let’s take a closer look at what thermal bridging is, why it’s important, and how to stop it from happening.
What does Thermal Bridging mean?
Thermal bridging happens when there is a straight link that lets heat move through a building’s envelope. This is basically a “bridge” that lets heat get around an insulating layer. These heat bridges can be things like steel or wood studs, concrete floor slabs, or even windows and doors. This makes the building’s insulation less effective as a whole, which leads to higher energy costs, less comfort, and a greater chance of condensation and mould growth.
What’s the deal with thermal bridges?
Using energy well
The most obvious effect of thermal bridging is a drop in how well energy is used. Since heat can easily move through these bridges, the HVAC system has to work harder to keep the inside temperature where it needs to be. This uses more energy and causes the utility bills to go up.
Thermal bridging can cause walls, floors, and ceilings to have cold spots. These differences in temperature can make people feel uncomfortable and force them to change their heating and cooling systems all the time.
Mould Grows When It Rains
Condensation can happen in places where there are thermal bridges. This wetness can cause mould to grow, which is not only dangerous for your health but can also weaken the building materials.
Lasting for a long time
Over time, the parts of a building that are affected by thermal bridging can wear out faster than the rest of the building. This can lower the building’s total sturdiness.
How to Tell if There Is Thermal Bridging
Often, special tools are needed to find thermal links. Infrared thermal imaging cameras are especially useful because they show how the temperature of an area changes over time. Another way is to use computer modelling models that look at how heat moves through different building materials and links.
Ways to stop thermal bridging from happening
Choosing What to Use
One of the best ways to stop thermal bridging is to use materials that don’t conduct heat as well. For example, using wood instead of steel to frame a building can make it less likely to lose heat. There are also advanced hybrid materials that make the risk of thermal bridging much lower.
Breaks in the heat
By putting a material with less conductivity between two materials with a lot of conductivity, the thermal bridge can be broken. For instance, putting a layer of insulation between a concrete floor and the ground can help stop heat from moving.
Changes to designs
Simple design changes can also help cut down on thermal bridging. For example, you can help by lining up insulation layers to cover any possible thermal bridges or by using window and door frames that are insulated.
Insulation That Never Stops
This is done by putting insulation in a single layer over the full building shell. This way, all possible thermal bridges are covered. This method is especially helpful for new buildings that want to be more energy efficient.
Building codes and sustainability are two trends for the future
As energy efficiency becomes more important in building design, new building rules stress the need to deal with thermal bridging. In the design process, these rules promote the use of thermal modelling tools to find and fix thermal bridges ahead of time.
In the end,
Thermal bridge isn’t just a term used by construction experts; it’s an important idea that affects how well a building works as a whole. If you ignore it, it can lead to higher energy costs, less comfort, and even problems with the building’s structure. Because of this, anyone who builds or takes care of buildings needs to know everything there is to know about thermal bridging, from how to find it to how to fix it. By using better materials, designs, and ways to insulate, we can build buildings that are not only healthy and last longer, but also use less energy and are better for the environment.